NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Monday night with the Washington Capitals visiting the New York Rangers. You can catch all of the action at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.
The Washington Capitals have an opportunity to tighten their hold on the top spot in the Metropolitan Division on Monday night.
The Caps, winners of three straight, sit three points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and will use up their game in hand over the Penguins, who are idle on Monday.
The focus of this one could shift to Alex Ovechkin and his pursuit of the 50-goal plateau. Ovi comes into the game sitting on 44 goals, six back of the milestone. With seven games remaining, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
The Great 8 hasn’t scored in this past two games, and he’s one goal ahead of Winnipeg Jets sniper Patrik Laine in the Rocket Richard race.
“Everything is in my hands,” Ovechkin told the Washington Post on Sunday about the race to 50. “Of course as you get closer and closer, you want to get it done.”
If Ovi can do it, he’d become just the third player in NHL history with eight seasons of 50 goals or more, joining Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky.
For Ovi to go on a late-season run, as the Post’sIsabelle Khurshudyan pointed out, would also go a long way to helping the Caps keep up their winning ways in the final two weeks of the season.
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The Rangers aren’t making the playoffs, so the rest of the season is a chance to give their future some NHL looks.
To that end, New York called up first-round picks Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Sunday, with the New York Post reporting that the duo will play out the rest of the regular season in the Rangers lineup.
“I think I’ve improved my game,” Chytil told NYRangers.com. “Everything is different here than in Europe. I’ve had to adjust my style for the U.S. It didn’t take so long, so I’m glad. All season has been very good for me. I’m learning in every game, so that’s most important.”
Andersson joined Hartford after playing with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League this season but an injury brought him to New York to rehab. Once healed, he didn’t return to his native Sweden, opting to head to the AHL.
“I’m more confident now than I was just a month ago,” Andersson told the team’s website. “It’s getting better and better every day.”
The duo could make some history if both are in the lineup on Monday.
If both Andersson and Chytil play, they’d become the first pair of teenagers to play in the same game with the Rangers since Dec. 19, 1974 (Dave Maloney, who was playing in his second career NHL game, and Ron Greschner).
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck