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The Caps set a franchise record with an unsightly win Thursday

The Caps set a franchise record with an unsightly win Thursday

It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win is a win.

And Thursday night’s 1-0 triumph over the Devils was record-breaking.

The Caps have now won 14 straight games at Verizon Center, establishing a new franchise mark in that category. (Washington won 13 in a row on F Street from January-March of the 2009-10 season.)

Here are some statistical highlights from the Caps’ current run in Chinatown:

  • Their last defeat on home ice was to the Devils, 2-1 in the shootout, way back on Dec. 29—63 days ago.
  • Since that game, Alex Ovechkin and Co. have outscored opponents 65-20 at home.
  • All but one of the wins came in regulation. (They beat the Maple Leafs in overtime on Jan. 3.)
  • Six of the wins have come via shutout. (Columbus, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Carolina and New Jersey.)
  • The Caps now own more home wins—26—than anyone else. Pittsburgh is second with 25.
  • Braden Holtby has won 11 of the games, while Philipp Grubauer has chipped in with three wins.

RELATED: So far, so good for Kevin Shattenkirk's adjustment to Caps

Coach Barry Trotz pointed to a few factors for his team’s dominance at home.

“We haven’t let teams off the hook in this building,” Trotz said. “We haven’t let teams dictate who’s in charge of this building. We’ve done a really good job of that. We have last [line] change, and that’s always very helpful. And when we have all of our lines, we can make it hard for other teams to figure out which way we want to go on matchups—I can move it around a little bit. That really helps.”

“And,” Trotz added, “we have a great crowd.”

Just as he said that, a fan who was watching the press conference nearby yelled, “Yeah!”

To which Trotz responded, “Yes you are.”

“You get to sleep in your own beds,” Trotz continued. “You’re comfortable with the situation. All that being said, we want to win in front of our home fans.”

A win is indeed a win, but this was an unsightly one. The Devils registered a season-low 15 shots on goal. It was also the fewest shots for a Capitals’ opponent this season.

Through 40 minutes, in fact, the visitors had just put just nine pucks on Holtby, who posted his NHL-leading eighth shutout of the season.  

“It was more of a game that everyone thinks is out of the NHL,” Holtby cracked. “It was like going back in time and playing the old Devils. I don’t think we created too many hockey fans tonight.”

Trotz agreed that the game was not aesthetically pleasing but he was happy that his team adapted to the grinding style of play and managed to get both standings points.

“We talked about when you play the Devils, especially when they go on the road, they are probably stingier, a little more patient,” he said. “They work very, very hard. They’ve got a lot of structure. You have to sometimes play the game that is presented.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps outlast Devils to set franchise record

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Is Alex Ovechkin about to switch equipment brands—again?

Is Alex Ovechkin about to switch equipment brands—again?

Although Alex Ovechkin has four more seasons on his contract with the Capitals, the star winger is a free agent when it comes to equipment.

The six-year deal that Ovechkin signed with equipment manufacturer Bauer in 2011 has expired, CSN confirmed on Wednesday.  

In recent days, No. 8 has been spotted at practice experimenting with CCM gear. The Montreal-based equipment company currently has Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Brent Burns, Carey Price, John Tavares, among other stars, on its endorsement roster.

Ovechkin, of course, burst onto the NHL scene wearing CCM gear earlier in his career.

On Tuesday, Ovechkin tried out a helmet, gloves and stick from CCM. On Wednesday, he was wearing CCM skates during the morning skate ahead of the Caps' preseason game in Montreal. And, yes, the skates featured his trademark yellow laces.

RELATED: OVECHKIN AND KUZNETSOV TEAM UP FOR PRESEASON GAME IN MONTREAL 

According to Ovechkin’s longtime agent, David Abrutyn, the three-time NHL MVP is weighing his options. In fact, during Wednesday’s practice, Ovi alternated between CCM and Bauer gloves.

“Alex has made no decision regarding his equipment partner, but you can expect him to do so in the near future,” Abrutyn told CSN.

Although Abrutyn was tight-lipped about the particulars, his answer would seem to indicate that Ovechkin could still re-up with Bauer, which counts Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Henrik Lundqvist and Auston Matthews among its big-name endorsers.

Here’s what you need to know about hockey equipment deals: While the top guys do get big paychecks for sporting a certain brand, it’s not NBA sneaker money or, for that matter, life-changing dollars for a player like Ovechkin, who will earn $10 million per season over the next four seasons from the Caps. For a player like Ovi, an equipment deal is mostly about finding the skates, sticks and other gear that he feels puts him in position to perform his best.

And right now, he’s free agent in search of best situation for himself. 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CAPS TRAINING CAMP

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Jakub Vrana is really trying to ignore the pressure

Jakub Vrana is really trying to ignore the pressure

There is perhaps no one on the Capitals roster with more on the line in training camp than Jakub Vrana.

Depending on how he performs, Vrana could climb into the team’s top-six or he could fail to make the roster at all and potentially be sent back down to Hershey in the AHL.

RELATED: WEDNESDAY'S PRESEASON GAME FEATURES A LOOK AT AN OVECHKIN-KUZNETSOV LINE

For a 21-year-old, it normally would not be an issue if he had to go back to the minors to further develop. As a first-round pick with questions about his focus in the AHL, as well as a clear hole in the top-six, there is a lot of pressure on Vrana's shoulders to prove he’s ready for the big leagues and he knows it.

“If you would think about [the pressure], you would probably kill yourself so I just try to don't think about it,” Vrana said to CSN after Wednesday’s morning skate. 

Vrana will make his preseason debut Wednesday in Montreal. In what could be a preview of the regular season lineup, Vrana will skate on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Barry Trotz stressed that it was important for the player not to read into anything in terms of who he plays with and where, but it is clear there will be a lot on the line for Vrana in Montreal.

“If he plays really well, it doesn't matter who he plays with, he'll make the hockey team,” Trotz said. “If he doesn't play well, then he won't have a chance to make the hockey team.”

MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH WEDNESDAY'S PRESEASON GAME