PatrickSmithGrubauerHoltby

Photo: Patrick Smith

After Braden Holtby tied Martin Brodeur for single-season wins record at 48 last night, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said “we’ll see” when asked multiple times by reporters if Holtby would get the start Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. Trotz had spent days indicating Holtby almost certainly not play, with the Capitals sticking to their usual Holtby then Philipp Grubauer plan when the team plays back-to-back games. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.

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ScottRovakHoltby

Photos: Scott Rovak 

Multiple Capitals made history Saturday night in St. Louis. All eyes were on Braden Holtby — including Martin Brodeur’s — as he attempted to tie the Hall of Fame goalie’s record of 48 wins in a single season. With a 5-1 victory, he did just that. Brodeur took 78 games to reach the mark. Holtby did it in just 66 games. Time for class photos!

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barry-trotz-playoffs

Sometime next week, after 82 games and a Presidents’ Trophy, the Washington Capitals will host Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round. This year, Capitals have put together one of the best regular seasons in National Hockey League history. Players have set records and some are still chasing them.

But the only thing that really matters to this team and to this fanbase is winning a Stanley Cup, something the Capitals are trying to accomplish for the first time in their 41-year history. Despite all their regular season success, the Capitals will face a tough first round opponent in either the Boston Bruins or Philadelphia Flyers. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, four losses is all it takes to implode a season that began in September. And as they close out their schedule, the Caps have now lost three games in a row for the first time this season and four of their last five matchups.

“We’ve lost a couple games here. It starts to sink in more,” head coach Barry Trotz told reporters Friday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “I think it’s go time.”

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barry-trotz-frustration

The Washington Capitals have not played well for weeks and panic is setting in. Thursday night against the Penguins, the Caps looked lethargic and disinterested, falling behind 3-0 before battling back late in the game. In overtime, Sidney Crosby roofed a backhanded shot past Braden Holtby on a breakaway, giving the Penguins a 4-3 win. The goal marked the Caps first three-game losing streak of the season. They’ve also lost five of their last seven games.

During his post-game press conference, an exasperated Barry Trotz had strong words for several unnamed Capitals, threatening roles, ice time, and postseason scratches.

“We have to ramp our game up,” Trotz said.

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Major League Baseball is in the throes of opening week and Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson was at a hockey game Thursday night. As a guest of CSN Mid-Atlantic and the Laughlin family, Robinson came to Verizon Center to see the latest iteration of the Capitals Penguins rivalry.

Nicknamed “The Human Vacuum Cleaner,” Robinson won 16 Gold Gloves and two world championships with the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson is considered one of the greatest third basemen in major league history. Former Capitals player Brooks Laich is named after the beloved Orioles infielder.

During the first intermission, I spoke with Robinson. Brooks explained his hockey fandom, what position he would play if he were a hockey player, and his thoughts on his historic Major League career.

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Michael Latta in his natural habitat.

Tuesday night against the Islanders, Michael Latta got back in the line-up for the first time since February 22. During the first period, Latta made his presence felt, fighting 6’4” defenseman Scott Mayfield after teammate Mike Richards was slammed hard into the boards.

Because of Latta’s latest kerfuffle, we learned of his new nickname, courtesy of Karl Alzner.

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Braden Holtby sat at the far end of the Capitals locker room for a few minutes, staring straight ahead. As reporters began to file in, Holtby walked out of the room to gather himself, returning about 10 minutes later. Earlier in the night, he held a 3-1 lead against the New York Islanders, just 13 minutes away from tying Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur for the most wins in a single season. With the Capitals possessing the best third period goal differential in the league and a significant shot advantage, Verizon Center roared as every save put him closer to the NHL record of 48 wins.

But in the final minutes, Holtby buckled, making an elementary miscue that ended up in the back of his net, putting the Islanders within one.

“I just, I made a mistake and it changed the momentum,” a dejected Holtby said of the play after the game. “It was just one of those plays I got caught between covering it and putting it in the corner, and when you’re in between decisions, it never ends up well.”

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clutterbuck

Photo: Bruce Bennett

Cal Clutterbuck, who has fantastic facial hair and the best hockey name of all-time, is beginning early his trash talk for the Capitals, one of his favorite adversaries. When asked by the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis if he would put this team with the NHL’s elite, Clutterbuck started playing mind games.

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Tom Wilson has played in 224 career NHL games. He has never scored a game-winning goal.

Monday night at Verizon Center, that changed due to some hard work and good luck. 3:46 into the third period, the fourth line forced a turnover in the defensive zone. Daniel Winnik put a shot on net. Wilson and Mike Richards crashed the net. As Richards drew a Blue Jacket’s attention in the crease, Wilson, wide open, backhanded the rebound past Sergei Bobrovski as he fell to his knees.

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holtby-bored

Braden Holtby inched closer to history tonight. After making 22 saves against the Devils, Holtby earned his third shutout and 45th victory of the season. The 1-0 win brings the Holtbeast three victories away from tying Martin Brodeur’s NHL record for most wins in a season (48 in 2006-07).

But if you were expecting the zen Holtby to dance a jig or pop some bottles, you’d be mistaken.

The dude looked straight bored tonight.

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