There’s no goaltending controversy in Washington, but Tuesday night in Columbus, backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer will receive a second-straight start. Reigning Vezina trophy-winner Braden Holtby will sit again.
Barry Trotz explained why while speaking to the press after the team’s morning skate Tuesday. Trotz came to the decision, in part, out of genuine concern for his young goaltender, whom he felt was hung out to dry by his Capitals teammates against the Carolina Hurricanes.
I know you don’t want me to mention it, but after coming off a horrendous loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Caps practiced with a bit of a line shakeup. The shakeup includes the return of top line Jay Beagle.
Beagle took time after practice this morning to speak with the media and voice what he thinks this shake up means and also talk about what he has been working on over the summer to improve his game.
Beagle mentioned that he focused on trying to keep his hands light to create more scoring opportunities. Beagle told the media, “probably four or five years ago, I started doing some stuff that I had never done before in the summer. Just working on individual things. In the summer, when you start skating it’s usually with a group, so I just started doing my own individual stuff as well as the group skating in Calgary.”
Beagle has also noticed that the opportunities that he has created for scoring have been because of bounces. “A lot of it is bounces, I’ve had a lot of good bounces this year. You just have to keep working and I’ve had starts like this where I felt like I should have had a start points-wise like this but they just didn’t go in or they just didn’t happen.”
The full transcription of Beagle’s interview is below.
After a solid start to the season, the Washington Capitals lost their second straight game in regulation on Wednesday night. It was the first time that had happened in 19 months. On Saturday night, they hope to get back on track as the opening month of the NHL season winds down when they face the Vancouver Canucks in the second part of Washington’s four game western Canadian road trip.
The Capitals and Canucks face similar problems: they started the year off well, but now they can’t score.
“We probably have to get a few more pucks on net and probably get a dirty goal rather than a pretty goal,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said Friday night. “We have to find a way.
Washington and Vancouver are tied for the second fewest goals in the NHL with 14.
On Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals lost their second straight game in regulation for the first time in 19 months. Hours earlier head coach Barry Trotz had dismissed Washington’s struggles as “small samples” that just gave the media “something to write about.” At the Capitals’ first practice since Washington’s 4-1 defeat to the Edmonton Oilers, Trotz gave the media plenty to write about all by himself, dramatically tweaking the forward lines.
“The coaching staff feels something fresh is going to happen,” new first line right wing Justin Williams said Tuesday in Vancouver, where the Capitals will play the Canucks Saturday night. “Obviously we need it. We’re not scoring enough goals, and that’s pretty evident, it’s clear.”
The last time the Washington Capitals lost two straight games in regulation was March 13, 2015. Curtis Glencross led the way for the Capitals with a first period goal in the team’s 4-2 defeat to the Dallas Stars.
Nineteen months later, the Capitals crashed back to earth after a season of tremendous success. On Wednesday night, the Caps fell 4-1 in Edmonton to Oilers after losing their previous matchup against New York 4-2. The team has now won three of its six games.
Last year, the Capitals had one of the best regular-season performances of all time, capturing the Presidents’ Trophy. Despite bringing back a nearly identical roster, the 2016-17 campaign has gotten off to a choppy start.
“We got to perform better,” defensemen Matt Niskanen said after Wednesday’s loss. “Guys need to do their jobs. It’s a little uncomfortable here tonight after the game.”
For years, the Edmonton Oilers were in the cellar of the standings, raking in high draft picks like fall leaves. Last offseason, the Oilers rebuilt their rebuild, trading away number one selections Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov while signing Milan Lucic to a seven-year contract. Connor McDavid, a generational talent with just 45 games of NHL experience, was given the C.
With the new captain, the youngest in NHL history, and a half billion dollar new arena, the Oilers have now won five of their first six games in the 2016-17 season, holding the top spot in the Western Conference and placing second in the NHL.
“It’ll interesting to see how they do this year because I think they have all the talent to be a much better team than they have been recently, with McDavid leading the way especially,” Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “It’ll be for sure a different Oilers team than it’s been the last couple years.”
Special teams was key to the Washington Capitals’ success last season. The team has long been known for its vaunted power play, but the Caps captured the Presidents’ Trophy in large part due to their brilliant penalty kill, which stopped their opponents 85.2 percent of the time, second only to the Anaheim Ducks.
This year, however, the Caps PK is faltering. They are the fourth-worst unit in the NHL, allowing goals 28.6 percent of the time that their enemy has the man-advantage. Washington has allowed power play goals in four of the five games they’ve played, including a Jimmy Vesey tally Saturday night against the New York Rangers.
“I think it’s just little things here and there we need to work on and continue to get better on,” center Jay Beagle said. “We’re obviously not happy. That’s not good enough.”
Tuesday night, Dmitry Orlov delivered a perfect hip check to Matt Duchene. The hit lit up both Duchene and social media, garnering nearly 4,000 retweets on the NHL’s Twitter account in 24 hours.
On Wednesday, Orlov spoke about his highlight-reel play with local media. The Russian defenseman was quick to show concern for the Avalanche forward, saying “I think it’s good that [Duchene] didn’t get hurt and was still in the game… and that we win that game.”
Orlov’s full comments on the hit are below.
In 2014, Andre Burakovsky came into the league as a 19-year-old rookie from Sweden. Out of training camp, he won a job as the Washington Capitals’ second line center due to his skill and speed. But before the new year, he was playing for the Hershey Bears, demoted to Washington’s farm club after a string of healthy scratches and games on the forth line. Burakovsky eventually made it back up to the Capitals, but continued to see time in the press box. Last season, Burakovsky began the season on the power play, but lost his job after another poor start, scoring two goals in his first 32 games.
“I knew this was going to be a tough league but I didn’t expect it to be that tough every single game,” Burakovsky said Monday. “If you’re not prepared the proper way and you’re not there 100 percent, you will have a really tough game.”
Over the past four seasons, the power play has been the lifeblood of the Washington Capitals.
Since 2013, nearly one-fourth of the team’s goals have been scored on the man-advantage. Impressive regular season numbers and Alex Ovechkin’s resurgence, led by his one-timers from the Ovi Spot, have all benefited greatly from Washington’s power play firepower. This year, however, one of league’s perennial top units is off to a slow start. Through two games and eight opportunities, the normally deadly Washington PP has come up with nothing.
“We’re leaving a lot on the ice,” John Carlson, who anchors the point on the first power play unit said after Saturday’s win over the Islanders. “For our skill level, our talent, we should have more goals than we do.”
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