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In a tight division race, Barry Trotz declares last 9 games 'all must-wins' for Caps

In a tight division race, Barry Trotz declares last 9 games 'all must-wins' for Caps

Saturday’s game features two teams at the opposite end of the standings. The Washington Capitals have their sights set squarely on the Stanley Cup as the top team in the NHL. With only 63 points, the Arizona Coyotes have their sights set squarely on the golf course as their season will soon be over.

After the Caps played in arguably their biggest game of the season on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, you could forgive the fans for overlooking Saturday’s contest against the scuffling Coyotes.

Barry Trotz, however, is not.

“Looking at all nine of these games, until we can secure our spot that we would like, they're all must-wins,” Trotz said after Saturday’s morning skate. “I can't tell you one that would not be.”

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Washington is in the midst of a three-team battle for supremacy of the Metropolitan Division. Losing means a difficult first-round matchup against either the Columbus or the Pittsburgh Penguins. To win that race, the Caps will need all the points they can get.

That means there’s a lot more at stake in a Washington-Arizona game than one might think. The challenge is conveying that to the players.

“These ones, when you're playing a team that you feel is young and maybe not as experienced, you worry about the readiness,” Trotz said. “But I think we recognize the situation. It will be on the players. We're going to give them a real good scout on Arizona. We're going to put the team on the ice to play Arizona and play them hard and respect them and that will be our message. Go after them.”

Washington holds only a one-point and three-point lead over Pittsburgh and Columbus in the standings, respectively. They hold a game in hand over the Penguins while Columbus will play the Philadelphia Flyers earlier on Saturday.

A game against the Coyotes may not be the sexiest matchup for a team that has already qualified for the playoffs, but if the Caps hope to finish atop the Metro, they cannot afford to leave two points on the table at home against an Arizona team with only one win in its last four games.

Said Trotz, “We have no room to let anybody steal any points in our arena at any time right now.”

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Game 74: Capitals vs. Coyotes date, time, how to watch, game thread

Game 74: Capitals vs. Coyotes date, time, how to watch, game thread

After a four-game losing streak, the Caps are back with three straight wins and a five-game point streak. On Saturday they face an absolute must-win game against the lowly Arizona CoyotesMaintaining a sense of urgency down the stretch of the season was a problem for Washington last year, but a tight race in the Metropolitan Division means the Caps need points to maintain first place. That means they can't afford to leave two points on the table against a scuffling team like the Coyotes.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Arizona Coyotes

Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET. (Capitals GameTime gets things started at 6:30 p.m. ET)

How to Watch: Capitals vs. Coyotes will be broadcast on CSN Plus. (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals vs. Coyotes game on CSN's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-COYOTES GAME?

The Capitals (48-17-8) take on the Coyotes (27-38-9) Saturday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Verizon Center.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-COYOTES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Coyotes game will be broadcast on CSN Plus. Capitals GameTime gets things started at 6:30 p.m. ET with Capitals Extra recapping the all the action following the game. (CSN channel Finder)

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-COYOTES GAME?

The Capitals-Coyotes game, as well as the pre and postgame shows, is available to stream live here through CSN's live stream page and is available to authenticated CSN Mid-Atlantic subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-COYOTES GAME?

Here are the projected lines based on Friday's practice:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Defense

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches
Paul Carey, Nate Schmidt, Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-COYOTES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals Digital Producer JJ Regan and the CSN Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and CSN's Facebook page.

Keep up with all the action here with Capitals GameZone and join in on the conversation here with Capitals Pulse.