EvgenyKuznetsov

Photo: Drew Hallowell

Looks like Head Coach Barry Trotz is shuffling his line combos heading into Game Five on Saturday. NHL.com’s Katie Brown has the lines from practice this morning:

The biggest change is the flip-flopping of centers Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov’s elevation forms a new top line for Head Coach Barry Trotz with Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie, one that had success early in the season. Other notable changes include the reformation of the Caps’ Tre Kronor line with Backstrom centering Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky, and Justin Williams finding himself on the third line.

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Barry Trotz Named Finalist For Jack Adams Award

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Thursday evening, Barry Trotz was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best coach. Trotz led the Capitals to a franchise-record 56 wins and its second ever Presidents’ Trophy. Trotz was named a finalist along with the Panthers’ Gerard Gallant and the Stars’ Lindy Ruff. The recipient is determined before the start of the playoffs each year by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association. Trotz has never won the award, but this is the third time he’s been named a finalist, also having done so in 2010 and 2011.

Trotz will join Braden Holtby (Vezina Trophy) and Alex Ovechkin (Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award) who are also up for awards this season. Winners will be announced Wednesday, June 22, during the 2016 NHL Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

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jim-vance-nbc4

Photo: @JPughNBC

Hi, my name is Ian Oland. I’m driving this here Capitals bandwagon. Over the last month, we’ve traveled all over the continent, picking up many new friends. In fact, there are so many strangers here, we’ve had to put on name-tags and start force-feeding IVs to our exhausted oxen via beer guzzlers. But we must carry on.

Our first new member is someone we’ve known a while. Over the last five decades, he’s walked near the bandwagon and sometimes he’s even come up and whimsically touched the side. But this year he finally jumped on.

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With Kris Letang suspended and Bryan Rust injured, the Pittsburgh Penguins have reached into the farm to fill their defensive ranks. Up comes Tom Sestito, veteran of 141 NHL games over an eight-year career, and former Capitals prospect Steve Oleksy.

Oleksy played 62 regular-season swag-filled games for the Capitals between 2013 and 2015, scoring 3 goals and 16 assists. In 2013, he added playoff games, his only postseason experience. In the summer of 2015, Oleksy was signed by the Penguins but has yet to suit up for a game.

Oleksy is a surprisingly strong depth defenseman. Relative to the rest of the 2013 Capitals, Oleksy had a positive possession swing of 1.88 percent. Sestito, on the other hand, has been a garbage fire, depressing possession by more than 8 percent in 140 NHL games for 4 different teams.

As much as I love Oleksy, I’d rather see Sestito get the sweater.

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Tuesday afternoon, the NHL announced a one-game suspension for Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. The linchpin of Pittsburgh’s blueline delivered a head shot to Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in Washington’s offensive zone during the first period. Letang was given a two-minute minor penalty for interference.

Johansson left the game and returned at the start of the second period, playing over 18 minutes. He passed concussion tests, but complained of neck pain. Tuesday morning, Johansson was held out of practice due what the Capitals termed an upper-body injury.

The Department of Player Safety explains their decision below.

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Sunday night, Caps owner Ted Leonsis was in the U Street Corridor and posted a landscape of the 9:30 Club. The concert hall’s iconic broadcast antenna (from its days as WUST-AM 1120) was lit up in red and white colors. “Red rocking around DC,” Leonsis captioned the photo.

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The NHL has suspended Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik three games for his hit on Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta in Game Two. The hit was late and primarily targeted Maatta’s head.

Matta left the game and did not return. The Penguins said he is “obviously out.” Orpik had suffered a head injury of his own during the Philadelphia series.

On Sunday, Orpik had a phone hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

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KarlAlznerGameOneRobCarr

Photo: Rob Carr

Karl Alzner missed Saturday’s morning skate with what the team is calling a “maintenance day.” Alzner missed two days of practice earlier this week but played in Thursday’s game despite being “banged up.” Skating in Alzner’s spot on the second pairing alongside Matt Niskanen was Mike Weber, though Weber stayed out late with the heathly scratches.

Dmitry Orlov looks to be healthy scratch as well following a misplay on Nick Bonino that led to a goal in the second period. Capitals coach Barry Trotz benched Orlov for the second half of the game, save for one short shift in the third period. Orlov has not missed a game all season.

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Photo: Monumental Sports Network

I know this might sound crazy, but TJ Oshie’s daughter Lyla set the tone for the Washington Capitals ahead of Game One. The Tiny Osh was recorded by her mother kicking the crap out of a Penguins poster, which, according to Dan Steinberg, was left at the family’s doorstep by a neighboring Pens fan.

The clip, which was posted by Lauren Oshie during an Instagram takeover of Ted Leonsis’s Monumental Sports Network, went viral.

Lauren also captured many other precious moments, such as Lyla celebrating her father’s second period breakaway goal at Verizon Center.

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