News and Notes from Capitals’ Wednesday Morning Skate: Off to New York, and Where’s Chandler Stephenson?

Photo: @Capitals

Christmas break has officially come to an end. On Wednesday morning, the Capitals hit the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for a quick morning skate at 8:30 a.m. before departing for New York. Tonight the Capitals will take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in front of a national audience as part of NBCSN’s “Wednesday Night Rivalry“. Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m. 



Nicklas Backstrom was in a goal drought for quite some time, having not scored since Oct. 14 until he broke that trend Dec. 6 in a win over Chicago. Overall he’s had four goals since that drought ended and we finally figured out why he’s been better.

Chandler Stephenson was ill, so he did not participate in the morning skate and won’t be traveling with the team to New York. Alex Chiasson skated in his place on the fourth line alongside Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly.

The Capitals are playing a back-to-back affair as they’ll head back to DC after tonight’s contest to host the Bruins on Thursday night. We are unsure of whether it’ll be Braden Holtby or Philipp Grubuaer getting the start tonight. Like usual in back-to-back affairs, the goalie that doesn’t start the first game will get the nod in the second game. Philipp Gruber was taking shots from the defensemen during the end of the morning skate. Capitals head coach Barry Trotz will name the starter when he addresses the media at 6 p.m.

The roster freeze will end at 12:01 a.m. tonight. As part of the roster freeze, teams can’t trade or move a player in an agreement that requires waivers. With the Capitals having picked up Nathan Walker last week off of waivers, he’s been with the team throughout the west coast road trip last week in Arizona and Vegas. He didn’t play in either of those games and was a healthy scratch in today’s morning skate. It is likely the Capitals will send him back to Hershey, but they can’t make a move until 12:01 a.m. tonight.

Brett Connolly and T.J. Oshie




  • The Capitals are 1-for-20 on the power play over the last eight games, falling to 19th at 19.1 percent success rate. (Tarik El-Bashir/NBCSW)
  • Philipp Grubauer’s first NHL win came against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Grubauer is 2-2-0 with a 2.20 goals-against average and has a .933 save percentage vs. the Rangers. (Tom Gulitti/
  • Tonight’s game is the second of four meetings between the Capitals and Rangers this season, the Capitals won the first meeting 4-2 on Dec. 8 at Capital One Arena.
  • In 20 games this season against Eastern Conference opponents, the Capitals are 13-6-1, marking the third-highest win percentage among teams with at least 18 games played.
  • John Carlson has recorded a point in 21 of his 37 games this season. Carlson’s 27 points (3 goals, 24 assists) are tied for second among NHL defensemen this season and his 24 assists rank second.
  • In the 2017 calendar year, the Capitals are 56-23-5 (117 points), one of just two teams in the NHL with at least 50 wins in 2017. The other team is the St. Louis Blues with 50 wins.
  • Since Barry Trot joined the team in 2014-15, the Capitals have posted a 35-10-7 record in the month of December, ranking first in the NHL in points during that span (77).
  • Alex Ovechkin has recorded 46 points (29 goals, 17 assists) in 49 career games against the Rangers and has scored a goal in five of his last nine games against New York (6 goals). In addition, Ovechkin has scored 22 career goals against Henrik Lundqvist, marking the most goals he has scored against a goaltender in his career.


By Michael Marzzacco

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3 Responses to News and Notes from Capitals’ Wednesday Morning Skate: Off to New York, and Where’s Chandler Stephenson?

  1. Pingback: Pregame News Links: Capitals at Rangers | NoVa Caps

  2. Pingback: BREAKING NEWS: Capitals Assign Nathan Walker to Hershey | NoVa Caps

  3. Pingback: News and Notes from Thursday’s Optional Skate at Kettler: Updates on Christian Djoos and Chandler Stephenson as Caps Gear Up for Bruins | NoVa Caps

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