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After the Capitals’ 4-2 loss to the Red Wings Wednesday, Pierre McGuire spoke to Detroit head coach Mike Babcock during NBCSN’s post-game show. There was one response from the Stanley Cup-winning bench boss that was particularly interesting to me. Babcock was asked about his long history with Barry Trotz in the Western Conference and if that gave him any insight into the game.

Babcock, considered to be one of the best coaches in the league, instead went out of his way to praise how good of a coach he thinks Trotz is.

He also briefly gushed about Andre Burakovsky, once Pierre told him what his name was.

This seemed really genuine to me, so I had to share.

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Photo: Geoff Burke

On Friday, the Washington Capitals got back to business, holding a practice at Calgary’s old Olympic stomping grounds. After the hour-long session was concluded, Nicklas Backstrom spoke to the media and was asked about Caps rookie Andre Burakovsky.

Through six games this season, the Burracuda is a point-per-game player, tallying six points and scoring two big goals. When Backstrom first began his North American career with the Caps, he tallied four points – all assists – in six games as a 19-year-old.

Nicky was asked about how he would compare himself to Andre at that age and it’s great stuff.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

Recent years in Caps-land have been chaotic, but there’s always been something you can rely on: everybody having a different opinion on how Alex Ovechkin can improve. You’d think the sixth fastest player to 400 goals is maybe doing alright, but for the media and the revolving door of Caps coaches, “fixing” Ovechkin is always all the rage.

Dale Hunter wanted Ovechkin to sacrifice his body and block shots, Adam Oates wanted The Great Eight to play with fourth-liners, and Bruce Boudreau wanted Ovi to push the pace and look for odd-man breaks.

Now it’s Barry Trotz’s turn.

When asked if he’s noticed “subtle” changes in Ovi’s play during the preseason, the new Caps coach spoke about what he’s wanted the Russian machine to improve on: defense.

Here’s the key quote: “His stick was up around his shoulders at the start of camp and now it’s below the waist. We’ll get it right on the ice before too long.”

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brooks-laich-flexing

Photo by the incomparable Chuck Gormley

For those of you who need something optimistic to clutch onto after the first day of training camp, I have some news for you. Brooks Laich did not get injured within the first ten minutes of camp (unlike last year). So maybe this is the season he becomes healthy again. Fingers crossed.

On top of that, the good-groin’d Laich is returning to his role as a quote machine, which was sorely missed. On Thursday, he spoke to Mike Vogel and answered a question many of us have been wondering.

What is Barry Trotz’s system going to be laich (get it)?

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Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin hasn’t played in a single game yet, but TSN’s Darren Dreger is already criticizing him for future wrongs. Two years after completely changing positions and not complaining under Adam Oates, Dreger is worried that the Russian machine won’t “buy in” on the plans of new Caps head coach Barry Trotz.

Welcome to Hot Take Central where the temperature is always scorching.

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jeff-schultz-not-awkward

Photo: Debora Robinson

Last summer, the Washington Capitals bought out the final season of Jeff Schultz’s four-year, $11 million deal. The 6’6”, 227-pound defenseman fell out of favor with Caps brass, and the Calgary, Alberta native asked for a trade. When they couldn’t find a willing partner, they bought him out. The Caps ended up using Sarge’s $2.75 million cap hit on Mikhail Grabovski, and we all said goodbye. It was time.

Over the summer, Schultz signed with the Los Angeles Kings. He didn’t make their team out of training camp, so he spent the entire season with American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. He put up pedestrian numbers there–two goals and 11 assists– but Sarge has never been a stellar boxcar stat guy. On Monday night, with Robyn Regehr injured, Schultz was given a jersey by Kings coach Darryl Sutter. He looked like a changed player.

It was weird– and not only because he was playing his first NHL game since DC against Bruce Boudreau, Mathieu Perreault, and the Anaheim Ducks.

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alan-may-rmnb-selfie

On Monday, CRL host and beer aficionado Alan May went on Elliot in the Morning to discuss all the recent hubbub regarding the Capitals.

May, who’s not really reserved when on TV, released the kraken on Adam Oates. It’s almost like he’s been waiting months to say this.

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obi-speaks

Photo: Chris Gordon

On Monday, the Washington Capitals held Breakdown Day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. For two hours, Caps players filed out of the locker room and conducted exit interviews with the media. Because of the whole no playoffs thing, there were a lot of long faces.

There’s about three hours of interview video to surf though on Monumental Network. Because I hate myself and care only about you, dear reader, I’ve transcribed all the key quotes. And because this is RMNB, I also pointed out the fashion choices. Sadly, there was no crazy hair this year.

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Photo: Geoff Burke

After one of the most successful West Coast road trips in franchise history, the Washington Capitals lost four straight games — three of which at home.  They’ve been outscored 16-9 during the losing streak. On April fools day, the Capitals, still in the thick of the Eastern Conference wildcard chase, played one of their most pathetic games of the year, a 5-0 blowout loss to the Dallas Stars.

It wasn’t so much that the Capitals lost, it was how listless they played considering the stakes.

When looking back at that game, it’s obvious this team is not focused. When the players hit the ice, they wilted under the adversity.

Consider warm-ups. Normally the starting goaltender leads the Caps out onto the ice. On that night, Russian rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov came out first with Ovi right behind him. A few seconds later, the rest of the team followed. According to 106.7 The Fan’s Sky Kerstein, “it looked like Ovi pranked Kuzya.”

I’ve got no idea if something silly like that has any effect on a team, but it doesn’t look good in hindsight. Even worse because it comes from the captain of the team.

During the actual game, the Capitals were a mess. They gave up two consecutive breakaways on a power play. They let the Stars score twice within 34 seconds, including a 2-on-0 breakaway by a 41-year-old. On Dallas’s fourth salvo of the night, Ovechkin quit on the play.

Head coach Adam Oates has faced difficult questions about his coaching style recently. Is that style still working? How does he motivates his players behind closed doors?

While the mainstream media has focused its attention on Oates’ honest comments about Ovechkin, there was much, much more to those interviews. Below is a summary of what I found most interesting.

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craig-laughlin-montreal-canadiens

Every night that Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin do the play-by-play of Caps games is a joy. Thursday night against the Florida Panthers was no different.

While Joe B. and Locker talked about the Caps trivia answer of the night, the former 30-goal scorer with the Caps revealed a funny story about how he found he was drafted. You see, kids, before cable and ESPN, the draft was covered a whole lot different.

I’ll let Locker explain.

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