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Caps Today, 12/27/17

December 27, 2017
The Capitals return from the Christmas break to face-off against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden tonight in the second of four meetings between the teams this season. The Capitals won the first matchup this season 4-2 on Dec. 8 at Capital One Arena. Washington is 101-90-18-6 all-time against New York and 46-50-9-2 all-time at Madison Square Garden.

In 20 games this season against Eastern Conference opponents, the Capitals are 13-6-1, marking the third-highest win percentage this season among teams with at least 18 games played. The Capitals play an Eastern Conference opponent 52 times this season and are currently on pace for 70 total points against the Eastern Conference this season. Last year, the Capitals had 79 points in 53 games against the Eastern Conference. Since Barry Trotz became head coach of the Capitals in the 2014-15 season, the Capitals' 385 points (178-76-29) are the most points in the NHL. This season, Alex Ovechkin has 23 points (19g, 4a) in 20 games against the Eastern Conference, while Nicklas Backstrom has 21 points (5g, 16a) in 20 games. Additionally, Evgeny Kuznetsov has 19 points (2g, 17a), while T.J. Oshie has 16 points (7g, 9a) in 17 games. Braden Holtby has a 12-3-0 record, a 2.43 goals against average and a .925 save percentage against the Eastern Conference this season.

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Capitals prospects Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Tobias Geisser are representing their respective countries in the 2018 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York. Jonsson-Fjallby, selected with the Capitals’ fifth round pick, 147 th overall, in the 2016 draft, represents Sweden, while Geisser, selected with the Capitals’ fourth round pick, 120 th overall, in the 2017 draft, plays for Switzerland. Jonsson-Fjallby led Sweden with five shots in 12:48 of ice time to help Sweden to a 6-1 win over Team Belarus 6-1 yesterday. Geisser and Team Switzerland take on Team Belarus at 3 p.m. ET today. The game will be aired on NHL Network.

TOP GAME NOTES

Big John - John Carlson has recorded a point in 21 of his 37 games this season. Carlson's 27 points (3g, 24a) are tied for second among NHL defensemen this season and his 24 assists rank second. Seven of Carlson's assists this season have come on a game-winning goal, which leads all Capitals this season. The Capitals are 16-5-1 when Carlson records a point. Over the course of an 82-game season, Carlson is on pace for 60 points, which would make Carlson the eighth defenseman in franchise history to record 60 points in a season and the first since Mike Green in 2009-10 (76 points, 19g, 57a). Since entering the NHL full time in the 2010-11 season, Carlson's 286 points (64g, 222a) rank 15th among NHL defensemen.

Closing out with a Bang - 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 (St. Louis: 50). The Capitals' 277 goals for rank first, while their 211 goals against rank eighth. Additionally, the Capitals' 24.0 power play percentage ranks fifth, while their 80.2 penalty kill percentage ranks 15th. In 2017, Alex Ovechkin has 39 goals, which leads the Capitals and ranks fourth in the NHL (Nikita Kucherov: 51; Brad Marchand: 44; Anders Lee: 42). Additionally, Nicklas Backstrom's 63 assists ranks first on the Capitals and second in the NHL (Connor McDavid: 70). Backstrom's 84 points in 2017 (21g, 63a) ranks eighth in the NHL. Braden Holtby leads the NHL with a 47-13-2 record. No other goaltender has recorded 40 wins in 2017. Additionally, Holtby has a 2.35 goals against average and a .920 save percentage.

Tis the Season - Since Barry Trotz 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). This season, the Capitals are 8-2-1 in December, with 38 goals for and 27 goals against, ranking fourth and 11th, respectively, in the NHL. In his career, in the month of December, Holtby has posted a 30-8-8 record with five shutouts, a 2.29 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. Nicklas Backstrom has tallied 141 points (48g, 93a) in 133 career games in December, marking his most career points in a month.

Ranger Danger – Alex Ovechkin has recorded 46 points (29g, 17a) in 49 career games against the Rangers and has scored a goal in five of his last nine games against New York (6g). In addition, Ovechkin has scored 22 career goals against Henrik Lundqvist, marking the most goals he has scored against a goaltender in his career. Nicklas Backstrom recorded two points in the first matchup this season (1g, 1a) and has 33 points (9g, 24a) in 40 career games against the Rangers. Braden Holtby is 9-9-1 against the Rangers and has a 2.44 goals against average and a .918 save percentage.



Climbing the Ranks - Barry Trotz recorded his 735th career win against the Dallas Stars on Dec. 19 and sits one win away from tying Lindy Ruff for fifth on the NHL's all-time coaching wins list. Trotz's next game will be his 1,480th career game, while Ruff coached 1,493 career games. Additionally, Trotz ranks sixth on the NHL's all-time games coached list. Since taking over as the Capitals' head coach in the 2014-15 season, the Capitals' 178-76-29 record and 385 points lead the NHL.

Must Read/See/Hear Material

Dump ‘n Chase: Caps Come Up Blank in Vegas / POSTGAME NOTEBOOK: Knights 3, Caps 0 / Caps Get Back to Work at MSG on Wednesday

Washington Post: Capitals come out flat in Vegas in final game before Christmas break / ‘No different than a married couple’: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom endure

NBC Sports Washington: Tarik's 3 stars: Caps fold 'em in Vegas, fall 3-0 to the Golden Knights / 4 reasons the Caps lost to the Golden Knights / Game 38: Capitals at Rangers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

NHL.com: Fleury makes 26 saves, Golden Knights blank Capitals / 10 things to watch before All-Star break

AP: Fleury has first shutout, leads Vegas past Capitals 3-0 (Dec 23, 2017) / Capitals come up empty in Vegas

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Golden Knights blank Capitals 3-0 to end homestand with 4-0-1 mark

Las Vegas Sun: Blog: Fleury earns first shutout of Golden Knights career against Capitals

NBC Sports: The 20 best NHL players of 2017 (PHT Year In Review)

Sporting News: In Washington Capitals locker room, DJ Tom Wilson plays to please

Japer’s Rink: Wednesday Caps Clips: Capitals @ Rangers Game Day

TV/Audio Clips:

Washington Capitals: Postgame Locker Room | 12/23 / Barry Trotz Postgame | Dec 23

NHL.com: NHL Now: James Stanley

Rangers Clips:

AP: Capitals, Rangers each seeking to bounce back (Dec 27, 2017)

Blue Line Station: New York Rangers: Why Mike Hoffman should be a trade possibility

Blue Shirt Banter: A lucky fourth line isn’t enough to mask a dismal December / Bantering Points: 12/27/17

ESPN: Rangers' hometown discount for Shattenkirk, Vegas' draft of Fleury among 2017's best deals

New York Daily News: Rangers reaping benefits of Golden Knights passing on Grabner


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