News and Notes from Friday’s Capitals Optional Skate at Kettler: Gearing Up for Game 82 and General Manager Brian MacLellan Speaks

DaHHlwmVwAEfPB1.jpg-largePhoto: @Capitals

After falling 4-3 to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, a few members of the Washington Capitals hit the ice Friday afternoon for an optional practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan also met the media. The season has flew by and tomorrow is game number 82. The Capitals will host the Devils Saturday night in what could be a first round playoff preview. Here are the news and the notes for Friday. 

ATTENDANCE
Forwards
Shane Gersich, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Travis Boyd, Brian Pinho

Defense
Brooks Orpik, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek, Christian Djoos

Goalies
Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer

NEWS
The goaltending battle for who gets the net in Game 1 of the playoffs all comes down to Saturday night. After Philipp Grubauer stopped 25-of-29 shots for an .862 save percentage it is now Braden Holtby’s move on Saturday night. Holby had his struggles for a while but has won four of his last five games. He was stellar on Monday night in St. Louis stopping 34-of-36 shots for a .944 save percentage.

After the skate Brian MacLellan spoke with reporters. He said that he believes this team has the ability to “go the distance” despite the lower expectations this year than in years past.

The Capitals can avoid the Pittsburgh Penguins in round one if the Pens earn one point against the Ottawa Senators tonight. With a win in that game or a loss in overtime, the Penguins would have home ice for the first round of the playoffs. Even if Washington did have to end up playing Pittsburgh, GMBM said he was okay with the matchup.

“I’m all right with it. I’m all right with any of it… I think our fans might have a little conniption,” said MacLellan.

MacLellan also mentioned that decisions on re-sigining head coach Barry Trotz and John Carlson will wait until after the playoffs. MacLellan wants to re-sign Carlson but would have to work out the proper deal and money.

“It depends on how much money he wants. It’s going to be a trade-off on do we want to create some space or what the salary level we’re welling to go and he’s willing to accept,” said MacLellan.

As for Trotz, MacLellan said he’s done a good job but didn’t say whether or not the results from this upcoming postseason will impact the decision. MacLellan also felt comfortable with the goaltending situation heading into the playoffs and will leave it to the coaches to decide who starts.

Every other Metropolitan Division team is in action tomorrow night. The Columbus Blue Jackets and the New Jersey Devils are tied with 97 points apiece but the Blue Jackets sit in third due to winning the season series over the Devils, taking three out of their four games. Columbus can clinch the third seed with a win over the Nasville Predators. The Predators will have nothing to play for that night, having clinched both the top seed in the Western Conference as well as the President’s Trophy for the NHL’s best record.

The Devils sit in the top wild card spot and would be playing the Capitals if the season ended today. The Philadelphia Flyers are in the second wild card spot with 96 points, just point behind the Devils. They’ll host the New York Rangers tomorrow at 3 p.m. on NBC. Say the Flyers beat the Rangers and the Capitals beat the Devils Saturday, that would indicate the Capitals play the Flyers. We’ll get a better idea how things look in the playoff picture before the puck drops for Capitals vs. Devils at 7 p.m.

SHAVINGS

  • With two goals and an assist Thursday night, Evgeny Kuznetsov became the 16th player in franchise history to reach the 80-point mark (27 goals, 56 assists) and the first player other than Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to reach the mark since Alexander Semin in the 2009-10 season (40 goals, 44 assists).
  • Alex Ovechkin scored his 47th goal of the season last night. He needs a hat trick on Saturday night for his eighth 50-goal season of his career. He would join the likes of Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky as the only players in NHL history with at least eight 50-goal seasons.
  • John Carlson assisted on Ovechkin’s goal for his 67th point (15 goals, 56 assists) which leads all NHL defensemen.

INTERVIEWS

CAPITALS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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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