Washington Capitals

Get your game notes: Bruins at Rangers

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Boston Bruins at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• Bruins catching fire: In the 10 games since Jan. 7, Boston has posted an 8-1-1 record.

• This has been a significant turnaround for the B’s, who were criticized publicly by team CEO Charlie Jacobs. On Jan. 6, he called the season “disappointing” and the team’s performance “unacceptable.”

• Before this stretch began, Boston was 5th in the Atlantic and 1 point outside the playoff picture. Now, the B’s are 4th in the Atlantic, in the 2nd Wild Card spot, and 7 points clear of 9th-place Florida in the East.

• Last game (Jan. 31): BOS def. LA 3-1. Tuukka Rask stopped 30 of 31 shots and Brad Marchand scored twice to help defeat the defending champion Kings.

• New York back on track: The Rangers came out of the All-Star Break with a pair of losses (at NYI, vs. MTL), but now have wins in back-to-back games after beating CAR and FLA (outscored them 10-4).

• The Rangers lead the NHL in wins since December 8, going 18-5-0 in that timeframe.

• Last game (Feb. 2): NYR def. FLA 6-3. 11 Rangers registered points, including Rick Nash who scored twice to tie Alex Ovechkin for the league-lead in goals at 31. NYR outscored FLA 3-0 in the 3rd period.

• This game tonight concludes a 4-game home stand for NYR (currently 2-1-0).

BOSTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Patrice Bergeron leads the team in scoring (33 points), but has only 2 points (both goals) in his past 8 games.

• Brad Marchand had a pair of goals vs. LA, and now has 4 goals in his last 5 games.

• Loui Eriksson (neck) left the game vs. LA after taking a hit into the glass from Robyn Regehr. Eriksson, who had 2 concussions last season, is expected to return vs. NYR according to coach Claude Julien:

“Loui is doing okay. He’s stiff from that neck thing, but he’s expected to play the next game. It wasn’t as severe as it could have been.” – Julien on Monday

• Milan Lucic was held without a point vs. LA, but has 10 points (4G-6A) in his last 10 games.

• Torey Krug enters with an active 3-game point streak (2G-1A). He also has 10 points (2G-8A) in his last 10 games.

• Krug posted 40 points (14G-26A) during a strong rookie season last year, and he is improving slightly on that output this season with 26 points (10G-16A) in 46 GP.

• Tuukka Rask has started 9 of the Bruins’ 10 games during this 8-1-1 stretch, and after stopping 30 of 31 shots vs. the Kings on Saturday, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is playing better than at the start of the season.

• In the 14 games before Rask’s current hot streak, he had only 1 game in which he allowed 1 or fewer goals. He has allowed 1 or fewer goals in 4 of the 9 games since.

RANGERS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Rick Nash scored twice on Monday vs. FLA – once shorthanded and once into an empty net – to tie Alex Ovechkin (WSH) for the NHL goal-scoring lead at 31.

• Nash reached the 30-goal plateau for the 8th time in his career (1st w/ NYR – 3rd season w/ NYR).

• This is the 12th season since Nash entered the league in 2002-03 as a rookie. In that timeframe, only Ovechkin (10), Jarome Iginla (10), and Ilya Kovalchuk (9) have more 30-goal seasons than Nash.

“It’s a nice accomplishment [to score 30 goals]. It just shows how good my linemates are and how good the team is doing. Personal success always comes after team success.” – Nash after the game vs. FLA

• The last Ranger to lead the NHL in goals in a season was Lynn Patrick in 1941-42.

• NYR’s franchise record for goals in a season is 54 (J. Jagr in 2005-06). Nash is on pace for 53.

• His career high is 41 goals, set in 2003-04 (2nd NHL season; w/ CBJ).

• Carl Hagelin is providing the Rangers with solid secondary scoring of late. He has assists in consecutive games, and 5 points overall in his last 5 games (2G-3A).

• Dan Boyle has goals in consecutive games, including the game-winner Monday vs. FLA. He would tie his career-best (done 3 times) with a 3-game goal streak if he scores vs. BOS.

• Boyle had 9 points (4 goals) in his first 30 games this season.

Video: Mike Green sends Kyle Clifford into Caps’ bench

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If you needed to summarize the Washington Capitals’ 4-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings, you could throw out various stats or just point to the score.

Then again, you could also just say the game was a lot like defenseman Mike Green’s check on Kyle Clifford, which sent the big forward crashing into John Carlson’s lap on the Caps’ bench:

Green collected his 27th assist (and 32nd point) of the 2014-15 season and was credited with three hits last night. One obviously stood out the most.

No White House bump for Kings: Capitals shutout defending champs

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The Los Angeles Kings got an opportunity to enjoy their past accomplishments on Monday when President Barack Obama honored them for winning the Stanley Cup last year. The following day, the Kings went to the Verizon Center where they received a harsh reminder that they’re not that team anymore.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby turned aside all 27 shots he faced in Washington’s 4-0 victory over Los Angeles. Troy Brouwer accounted for the Capitals’ first two goals, although he got plenty of help on the game winner:

With this loss, the Kings have dropped to 2-5-4 following their win against Vancouver on Jan. 1. Speaking of the Canucks, the Kings trail them by three points in the battle for the second Wild Card spot. That’s not a huge gap, but it’s made worse by the fact that Vancouver has played in two fewer contests.

Los Angeles could still turn this campaign around and have a strong postseason. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the Kings have done better in the playoffs compared to the regular season. However, this season’s edition of the Kings still has plenty to prove as it faces the possibility of being the first iteration since 2008-09 to miss the playoffs entirely.

Related:

Holtby emerging as a leading candidate to represent Canada in World Cup

Backes defends his play after boarding Alzner

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David Backes had a short game on Sunday as he was ejected early in the second period for boarding Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner. The blueliner was left bloodied, but he was able to continue playing and went on to log 19:34 minutes.

The NHL decided not to punish the St. Louis Blues captain further over the incident, but it wasn’t until today that Backes offered a public defense of his actions.

“Yeah, it’s nine years now and I’ve had one major penalty that was quickly rescinded right after that,” Backes told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Now this one, where I think it’s pretty benign — he hops back up and doesn’t miss a shift.

“Never looking to hurt anyone out there. The rules are the rules, I guess, and if there’s blood, (then the ejection was warranted). But the result is, the guys had one heck of a penalty kill for that five minutes, really got momentum off that and played a heck of a game … They really picked me up.”

As far as his one major penalty note, for what it’s worth Backes has 24 major penalties and 17 misconducts in 616 career games, according to CBS Sports. Boarding Alzner was his second major penalty of the 2014-15 campaign, although it was his first game misconduct. That being said, he might not be counting his fights and those do account for most of his major penalties.

Here’s the hit in question:

Sidney Crosby is still the Hart Trophy favorite

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Updated Hart Trophy odds from online bookmaker Bovada:

Sidney Crosby 9/4
Jakub Voracek 9/2
Carey Price 13/2
Patrick Kane 8/1
Claude Giroux 17/2
Ryan Getzlaf 17/2
Alex Ovechkin 15/1
Rick Nash 15/1
Steven Stamkos 15/1
John Tavares 20/1
Vladimir Tarasenko 20/1

If I had a few bucks to throw at this, I’d be throwing it behind Carey Price. In my opinion, no player has been more responsible for his team’s success this season than the Canadiens’ star goalie. Granted, there’s still a lot of season left and that means a lot of time for a guy like Crosby to heat up, but if the voting occurred today, there’s a very good chance Price would get the nod.