Pregame primer: Pride at stake for Capitals

Pregame primer: Pride at stake for Capitals
April 11, 2014, 6:00 pm
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(Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

News and notes as the Capitals [37-30-13, 87 points] take on the Chicago Blackhawks [46-19-15, 107 points] tonight at Verizon Center [6:30 p.m. Caps Central, CSN]:

What’s at stake: Nothing, actually. For the first time in seven years the Capitals are out of the playoffs. “I think it would be tough to teach these guys at this time,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “I’m hoping we just come out and put a good effort for our fans.” The Blackhawks are also locked into third place in the Central Division, where they will face either the St. Louis Blues or the Colorado Avalanche, who are battling for the division lead. Whichever team does not win the division will face the Hawks.

Goalie matchup: Jaroslav Halak [28-13-7, 2.29, .919] will face Blackhawks' Corey Crawford [32-15-10, 2.22, .918]. Adam Oates said he chose Halak over Braden Holtby because Holtby played in Carolina Thursday night [36 saves] and Holtby will probably play again on Sunday. Oates said he worked through any communication issues he might have had with Halak from earlier in the week. “It’s all good,” Oates said.

Cruel reminder: Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010 and said he wants to see his former teammates do well in the playoffs. “I owe a lot to that organization, being me into the NHL and letting me play.” Brouwer said veterans like former Blackhawks Marty Lapointe and Adrian Aucoin helped teach him how to be a professional and he wants to pass those attributes on to current teammates.

RELATED: [Six-Pack of Questions: Will McPhee return after this season?]

Empty feeling: This the first time in Brouwer’s career that he faces a spring without a playoff game. “It’s kind of an empty feeling. It was almost like the lockout feeling last year when you know there’s going to be no hockey.”   

Ovi to World Championships?: Alex Ovechkin said he spoke with the coach of the Russian national team last week and is considering representing his country in the 2014 IIHF World Championships in Minsk, Belarus from May 9-25. John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Mikhail Grabovski, Troy Brouwer, Joel Brouwer, Karl Alzner, Braden Holtby, Jaro Halak and Evgeny Kuznetsov might also receive invitations from their respective countries.

Career year: Joel Ward recorded one goal and two assists in Thursday night;s 5-2 win over Carolina, extending his point streak to three games. The Toronto native has set career highs in goals [24], assists [24] and power-play goals [6].

Last we met: The Capitals and Blackhawks met in the 2013-14 season opener on Oct. 1, 2013, at UnitedCenter in Chicago, where they lost 6-4 in Connor Carrick’s NHL debut, just 25 miles from his hometown of Orland Park.