News and Notes from Monday’s Capitals Morning Skate at Kettler: Chasing a Milestone in Front of a Kid that Looked Up to You

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The Washington Capitals are back home after a big win in San Jose to conclude their California road trip. Monday night, they’ll take on the Winnipeg Jets in what is sure to be an exciting matchup between two of the leading goal scorers in the entire NHL. For one of them, he could achieve a significant milestone if he scores twice. Before the game, the Capitals held a morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Here’s all the news, notes and everything you need to know for tonight’s game. 

THE MORNING LINES
Here is what the lines looked like at morning skate:

Forwards
Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Wilson
Connolly-Backstrom-Burakovsky
Vrana-Eller-Oshie
Stephenson-Beagle-DSP
Defense
Kempny-Carlson
Orlov-Niskanen
Orpik-Jerabek
Starting goalie: Philipp Grubuaer

NEWS
The only line change from Saturday’s game was on the fourth line where Devante Smith-Pelly came back in for Travis Boyd. Philipp Grubauer will get the start in goal for the third straight game. Grubauer carries a 9-8-3 record on the season with a 2.25 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. This will be his first start against the Jets.

The Jets will go with Connor Hellebuyck in goal. Hellebuyck is 35-11-8 on the season with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. In his career against the Capitals, Hellebuyck is 2-1-0 with a 2.26 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.

FASHION
Back in early February, the team started sporting their navy blue Stadium Series pants and helmets. Even though the Stadium Series already happened, the Capitals are still wearing this gear for their practices and morning skates.

CHASE TO 600

Alex Ovechkin is tied with Patrick Laine for the NHL lead in goals this season with 40. Tonight those two will go head to head. For Laine, Ovechkin is his boyhood idol and you can read more on that storyline here. The 19-year old could have a front row seat to some history tonight as Ovechkin enters Tuesday night’s game just two goals shy of 600 for his career.

A clean-shaved Ovechkin did speak about Laine after the morning skate. When asked about being tied in goals with a “young” player like Laine or considers Laine as a “young Ovi, he replied “I’m still young!”

If Ovechkin scores two goals within his next 10 games, he would become the fourth player in NHL history to score 600 career goals in under 1,000 games. He would join an elite group if he achieves this feat alongside Wayne Gretzky (718 games), Mario Lemieux (719), and Brett Hull (900). In addition, Ovechkin would become the NHL’s first player to join the 600 club since Jarome Iginla on Jan. 4, 2016 (1,432nd career game) and the only player to make his NHL debut after the 1996-97 season. Ovechkin made his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2005.

SHAVINGS

  • Washington holds a 48-26-5-9 record all-time against Winnipeg.
  • Nicklas Backstrom scored the game-winning goal against the San Jose Sharks on March 10 for his 778th career point. His 778 career points (205 goals, 573 assists) rank fourth in franchise history, trailing Mike Gartner by 11 points (789 points).
  • Since Feb. 19, the Capitals have outshot opponents 308-280, averaging 30.8 shots per game and allowing 28.
  • Washington has recorded 280 shots during five-on-five play and have allowed 254. That’s the seventh-most shots during that time frame and the 11th fewest allowed.
  • During that span, Washington has limited their opponents to under 30 shots in six of their last 10 games and in four-straight games.
  • In his last 23 appearances, which dates back to his 36-save effort against the Calgary Flames on Oct. 29, Philipp Grubauer is 9-6-2 with a 1.83 goals against average and a .909 save percentage, which is the lowest goals against average and the highest save percentage among goalies with at least 16 appearances during that time frame.
  • Lars Eller recorded an empty net goal Saturday in San Jose for his 15th of the season. In addition, it was the 100th goal in his NHL career and 27th as a Capital.
  • Alex Ovechkin has registered 89 points (45 goals, 44 assists) in 62 career games against Winnipeg, ranking first in NHL history in points against the franchise.

GAME NOTES

CAPS TODAY

By Michael Marzzacco

About Michael Marzzacco

Michael is an avid DC sports fan with a passion for writing. He has followed the Washington Capitals since the 2003-04 season, around the time his enthusiasm for DC teams really began. It was from the days when they had the worst record in the league to when they became the most exciting team in the area. His Dad took him to his first Caps game a couple of years later. One of his favorite memories was being in the stands during the 2015 Winter Classic where Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal with 12 seconds left. Michael graduated from Radford University in May 2016, earning a degree in journalism and focusing on sports journalism and broadcasting. His goal is to work in sports media in Washington, D.C.
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