News and Notes From Wednesday’s Capitals’ Morning Skate: Playoff Bound!

_50A0202The Capitals finally return home after a 3-0-0 road trip and host the New York Rangers on the NHL on NBC’s Wednesday Night Rivalry Night at 8 PM. The game will be telecasted on NBC Sports Network. The two teams finish their season set and home-and-home series tonight at Capital One Arena. Washington is 2-0-1 against New York this season, winning by a 4-2 count December 8 in D.C. and a 4-2 victory at Madison Square Garden on Monday. New York won their first meeting at MSG, by a 1-0 score in a shootout. Here are all of the news and notes from today’s morning. 

Capitals’ Lines

News

Center Shane Gersich will make his NHL debut tonight, drawing in for Brett Connolly. Connolly has only one goal in his last 19 games since February 11, which came against the Detroit Red Wings last Thursday in Washington’s 1-0 victory at Little Caeser’s Arena. Gersich, 21, finished his college career with 43 goals and 77 points in 117 career games and was a +31, including 13 goals and 29 points in 40 games this season, at the University of North Dakota.

Winger Devante Smith-Pelly will draw into the lineup after sitting the last two games as a healthy scratch. Smith-Pelly has not scored since January 31, spanning 24 games. He just has two assists in that span and doesn’t have a point in 19 games. He will go in for Jakub Vrana.

Braden Holtby will get the start against the Rangers after sitting the past three games. He tweaked something when Dallas Stars’ forward Remy Elie in the Capitals’ 4-3 win over the Stars last Tuesday. Philipp Grubauer had a “little tweak” during the Capitals’ win in New York on Monday. The Capitals recalled Pheonix Copley from Hershey yesterday; he will back up if Grubuaer is unable to go.

The Capitals could clinch a playoff berth for the fourth straight year if they defeat the Rangers in any fashion and the Philadelphia Flyers lose to the Colorado Avalanche in regulation or if they get one point against the Rangers and the Flyers lose to the Avalanche in regulation. The Avs-Flyers game is at 10 PM from Pepsi Center in Denver.

Interviews 

Shavings:

Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th career goal against the Rangers on Monday. His 22 goals against Henrik Lundqvist marks the most goals he has tallied against one goalie in his career. He sits five goals shy of his eighth 50-goal season.

-The Capitals have won eight of their last nine games, outscoring opponents 39-23 in that span. They have trailed for a total of 42:18, the lowest in the NHL since March 10.

-The Capitals are 4-0-1 in their past five games against the Rangers.

Nicklas Backstrom passed Mike Gartner for third on the franchise’s all-time points list with two assists on Monday night. He leads players drafted in 2006 with 791 points, leading Phil Kessel, who’s second, by 57 points.

John Carlson became the eighth defenseman in franchise history to record 60 points in a season. The last to do it was Mike Green in 2009-10 (76 points). His 64 points lead the NHL in points among defenseman.

T.J. Oshie has six goals in his last seven games.

-Wednesday’s game against the Rangers marks the start of the Capitals’ first multi-game homestand since February 9-11.

-The Rangers were eliminated from postseason contention with the New Jersey Devils’ 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes last night. That ends their playoff streak of seven seasons.

Game Notes:

Scenes From the Morning Skate:

 

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was seeing T.J. Oshie's hat-trick​ during Game 1 of the Caps' second round playoff series against Pittsburgh in 2016. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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