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Caps Today, 3/8/18

March 8, 2018
The Capitals face the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center tonight in the second and final meeting between the teams this season. The Capitals lost the most recent matchup against the Kings 5-2 on Nov. 30 at Capital One Arena.

Nicklas Backstrom is scheduled to play in his 800th NHL/Capitals game tonight against the Los Angeles Kings, becoming the seventh player in franchise history to reach the 800 game mark. Backstrom's 777 career points (204g, 573a) rank fourth in franchise history, trailing Mike Gartner by 12 points (789 points). Additionally, Backstrom's 573 assists rank first in franchise history. Backstrom's 777 points rank first among the 2006 NHL Draft class, leading Phil Kessel by 52 points, who ranks second through games played March 6, and his 573 assists are 123 more than Claude Giroux, who ranks second in the 2006 NHL Draft class with 450 assists through games played March 6. Since entering the NHL in the 2007 season, Backstrom’s 573 assists rank third (Henrik Sedin: 594; Joe Thornton: 581) in the NHL. With 573 career assists, Backstrom is now two assists shy of tying Scott Gomez for 98th all-time in career assists. Backstrom is one of just three players to rank in the top 100 all-time in assists with 800 or fewer games played (Bobby Orr: 64th all-time, 645 assists in 657 games; Peter Forsberg: 71st all-time, 636 assists in 708 games).


John Carlson: Wednesday, 4:45 p.m., Chad Dukes Versus The World, 106.7 The Fan

This Day in Capitals History

March 8, 1981: Dennis Maruk became the first 40-goal scorer in Capitals history, delivering a hat-trick in a 7-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rick Green added two goals and Mike Palmateer made 25 saves as the Capitals snapped a 13-game winless skid before 9,353 at the Capital Centre. Additional info on the Caps history and behind-the-scenes stories can be found in '100 Things Capitals Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die'


Search for 600 - Alex Ovechkin is leading the NHL with 40 goals this season. Ovechkin's 40th goal, scored on March 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, marked the ninth time in Ovechkin’s career he reached the 40-goal mark, becoming the sixth player in NHL history with at least nine 40-goal seasons (Wayne Gretzky: 12; Mario Lemieux: 10; Marcel Dionne: 10; Mike Gartner: 9; Mike Bossy: 9). Ovechkin also became the first player to reach the 40-goal mark this season, the seventh time in his career he became the first player to reach the milestone, setting a new record. Ovechkin sits at 598 career, and if he scores two goals within his next 12 games, he would become the fourth player in NHL history to record 600 career goals in under 1,000 games (Gretzky: 718 games; Lemieux: 719 games; Brett Hull: 900 games, per Elias Sports Bureau). In addition, Ovechkin would become the NHL's first player to join the 600 goals 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. Ovechkin is also on pace for 89 points this season, which would be his highest total since the 2009-10 season (109 points, 50g, 59a). Additionally, it would be the first time he's averaged over a point per game in a season since the 2013-14 season, when he recorded 79 points (51g, 28a) in 78 games. Ovechkin is looking to record his eighth 50-goal season of his career. Only Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky have more 50-goal seasons, each with nine. No other player has at least seven. This season, 70 percent of Ovechkin's goals have come at even strength (28). That's the third-highest percentage of even-strength goals Ovechkin has scored in his career (2009-10: 74 percent; 2010-11: 78 percent). Since the 2005-06 season, Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals (598), points (1,107), power play goals (224), power play points (430), game-winning goals (100), overtime goals (22, the NHL's all-time mark) and shots (4,822). Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals since 1998-99 despite beginning his NHL career in 2005, and he ranks first in shots taken since the 1994-95 season.

Quick Draw - Jay Beagle has won 37 of his last 41 face-offs (90.24 percent), including 22 out of 24 in the defensive zone (91.67 percent) and five out of six shorthanded (83.3 percent). Beagle's 17 face-off wins against the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 27 was the most face-off wins by a Capital this season, while his 92.9 success rate (13 out of 14) against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3 was the greatest success rate of any player in the NHL in a single game this season among players with at least 10 draws through games played March 6. This season, Beagle ranks fourth in the NHL in face-off percentage among players with at least 700 face-offs (483 wins on 835 draws, 57.84 percent), second among players with at least 300 defensive zone draws (297 wins on 499 face-offs, 59.51 percent) and first among players with at least 200 shorthanded face-offs (109 wins on 205 draws, 53.17 percent). Since the 2014-15 season, Beagle ranks fifth among NHL players with at least 1,000 draws in face-off percentage (1,694 wins on 2,963 draws, 57.17 percent).

A Lot of Power - Since Jan. 31, the Capitals have the most successful power play in the NHL (12 goals on 39 opportunities, 30.8 percent). During that time frame, nine different Capitals have recorded a power play point. John Carlson's eight points (1g, 7a) on the power play leads the Capitals during the stretch, is tied for third among defensemen in the NHL and tied for eighth overall through games played March 6. Overall, the Capitals power play ranks fifth in the NHL this season (43 goals on 194 opportunities, 22.2 percent). Alex Ovechkin is tied for fourth in the NHL with 12 power play goals, while Carlson ranks first among defensemen and eighth overall with 21 power play assists through games played March 6. Since Barry Trotz assumed the head coaching position in the 2014-15 season, Washington ranks first in power play percentage (215 goals on 929 opportunities, 23.1 percent). Ovechkin ranks first among active players with 224 power play goals and 10th in NHL history, while Nicklas Backstrom ranks fourth among active players in power play assists (260).

Kuz Control - Evgeny Kuznetsov has 16 multi-point games this season, second on the Capitals (Alex Ovechkin: 18), and has 31 career multi-assist game and nine this season. With his most recent goal, scored against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3, Kuznetsov tied his single-season high set in 2015-16 (20), and he reached the 20-goal mark for his second time in his career. Kuznetsov’s 173 career assists rank sixth among players selected in the 2010 draft, and his 1.94 assists per 60 minutes at five-on-five ranks first among 2010 draftees with at least four NHL games played. Kuznetsov is second on the Capitals in points (64p, 20g, 44a), and his 64 points are 13 points shy of his season-best 77 point season (20g, 57a) in 2015-16. In Kuznetsov's last five games, he has nine points (4g, 5a).

Success When it Counts - This season, the Capitals are 18-11-4 against teams currently in a playoff position, the seventh-best points percentage (.606) and a 99-point pace over the course of an 82 game season. That's also the third-highest in the Eastern Conference (Tampa Bay: 21-11-1, .652 points percentage; Boston Bruins: 16-8-6, .633 points percentage).  

Must Read/See/Hear Material

Dump ‘n Chase: Caps Face Kings in L.A. on Thursday / #CapsDucks Skate Shavings: California Dreamin' / Caps Draw a Blank in Trip Opener in Anaheim / #CapsDucks Postgame Notebook: The Hangover

Washington Post: Whatever happened to that ship — er, sheep — Alex Ovechkin received for his 30th birthday? / Capitals could turn to Philipp Grubauer in net ‘for a bit’ as Braden Holtby continues to struggle / Braden Holtby struggles again as Caps come out flat and fall to Ducks / The Alex Ovechkin museum already spans two continents and keeps getting bigger / Boswell: Rooting for a sports team doesn’t build character. It reveals it. (Washington Capitals mentioned)

Washington Times: Capitals mull replacing Holby with Grubauer ‘for a bit’ / Capitals’ stadium game brownout caused by wind gust from nor’easter

NBC Sports Washington: Game 67 Capitals at Kings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread  / Player poll reveals what Caps fans already knew about Nicklas Backstrom / Barry Trotz hints he may turn to Grubauer in net so Holtby can 'settle his game' / 3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Ducks / Tarik's 3 stars: Holtby pulled again as the Ducks steamroll the Caps / Game 66 Capitals at Ducks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread Smith-Pelly meets O'Ree before Capitals game / Ducks shut out Capitals, move into second in Pacific / Super 16: Predators move into top spot (Washington Capitals mentioned)

AP: Ducks beat Capitals to move up to second in Pacific

Baltimore Sun: Annapolis mystery solved: NHL brownout caused by wind and slow-starting lights

CBS DC: Are The Capitals Still An Elite Team?

ESPN: The most surprising results of the NHLPA's player poll / NHL experts predict: Playoff dark horses, Penguins vs. Flyers, Carter Hutton's 2018-19 team (Philipp Grubauer mentioned)

The Free Lance Star: Caps could bring street hockey rink to Fredericksburg

LA Times: What we learned from the Ducks' 4-0 win over Washington

NBC Sports: One brave move could improve Capitals / Gibson gives Capitals nothing in Ducks win / Why Claude Giroux and Alex Ovechkin should be in the MVP discussion

NHLPA: NHLPA Player Poll 2017-18 (Nicklas Backstrom, Todd Reirden mentioned)

Orange County Register: Rickard Rakell’s scoring surge continues as Ducks shut down Capitals / Alex Ovechkin has left an impression since day one

Sports Capitol: Holtby’s struggles put a tough decision in front of Trotz

SportsNet: Capitals considering benching Holtby while he works through dry spell

TSN: The players have spoken: Crosby, McDavid headline NHLPA Poll (Nicklas Backstrom mentioned)

STATS LLC: Caps hope to rebound at Kings

Yahoo: Power Rankings: The Bruins are getting ridiculous (Washington Capitals mentioned)

TV/Audio Clips:

Washington Capitals: Rinkside Update | Willie O'Ree / Stadium Series Alumni Game | 2018 / 2018 Kids Game Takeover /   Barry Trotz Postgame | March 6 / Caps Postgame Locker Room | 3/6 / O'Ree meets with Capitals / Two-Man Advantage | March 6

NBC Sports Washington: Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Capitals have a goalie problem / What Went Wrong: Caps explain loss to Ducks / Alan May breaks down Caps struggles vs. Ducks / Holtby or Grubauer? Junkies weigh in on what to do at goalie

Sports Capitol: Red Line: A review of the Stadium Series spectacle, and a look ahead to the Capitals’ West Coast trip.

Kings Clips:

Orange County Register: Kings can’t change the past, so focus is on the future

LA Times: After another unsportsmanlike penalty, Kings' Drew Doughty admits his passion sometimes can create problems