Barry Trotz’s Weapon: Ice Time

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

On Saturday night, Nate Schmidt and Andre Burakovsky sat out as the Capitals faced the Devils in Newark. Tom Wilson, the first line right wing, was also benched for most of second period. Barry Trotz’s weapon is ice time, and he uses it.

For Schmidt, it was his first scratch of the season, coming on the heels of excellent play alongside Mike Green throughout the year. The game before, Schmidt had misplayed Blue Jackets forward Michael Chaput, who scored a game-tying goal late in the game.

“Sometimes you have to reset players when they’re not going very well,” Trotz said the benchings. “You have to give them a little jolt.”

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The drama continues. Hours after the Capitals announced that they had sent Andre Burakovsky to AHL Hershey, the Swedish Hockey Federation held a phone interview in which they accused the NHL and the Capitals of “a breach of contract.” It was first reported by Hans Abrahamsson of the Swedish sports website Aftonbladet.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

Friday morning, the Washington Capitals sent Andre Burakovsky to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears. The demotion comes on the heels of the Caps not allowing Burakovsky to play in the World Junior Championship, an opportunity that the Burracuda privately stated he wanted.

The re-assignment ends two weeks of scratches for one of the NHL’s best prospects, which had been a shining example of how not to develop a young player (don’t get me started on 65 and 92 playing on the fourth line). Today, that changes.

Burakovsky will get huge minutes in Hershey. He’ll be able to work on system play while skating in a physical league. He’ll be shadowed by and defended by some of the best players in the American league. This will be good for his development.

The WJC decision still confounds and troubles me, but hey, #GMBM.

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Here’s a photo of Andre Burakovsky not playing hockey. (Photo: @alex_prewitt)

Scratched for the last three games, Caps rookie center Andre Burakovsky seemed like the perfect candidate to play in the World Junior Championship and regain his confidence. Team Sweden head coach Rikard Gronborg added “Andre has clearly stated to us that he wants to participate in the tournament.”

Well, hold up. TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted on Thursday night that the Caps don’t plan to let Burakovsy attend the tournament. The Caps themselves say no decision has been made yet.

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Photo: Jeff Roberson

Caps rookie Andre Burakovsky was scratched for the first time in his young career on Saturday night. On Monday, Burakovsky skated with the team’s scratches during practice. After averaging a point per game in opening weeks of the season, the dynamic 19-year-old center seems to have hit a wall.

Now it appears the Capitals, who have a ton of veteran depth at forward, are considering letting Burakovsky leave the team in mid-December to play in the 2015 World Junior Championship held in Montreal and Toronto– at least according to Team Sweden head coach Rikard Gronborg.

After Team Sweden announced their preliminary WJC roster, which included an unconfirmed Burakovsky, Gronborg held a press conference at the Swedish Hockey Federation in Stockholm. It aired live on swehockey.se.

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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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“Killer” Turnovers Cost Caps Victory Over Red Wings

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

For the last few games, Washington’s offense has been lacking. Alex Ovechkin has struggled to score — going five games without a goal — while the rest of the lines have struggled to click as Barry Trotz’s looks for line combinations that will gel. On Wednesday, they got the offense. Washington clearly outclassed the Red Wings but made a few inexplicable mistakes. They hurt.

“They’re not playing overly poor,” Trotz said after the game. “You’ve just got to put your nose to the grindstone and plow through it.”

“Every turnover we did have ended up in the back of the net a little bit,” he added.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

This morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Barry Trotz took a hammer to the lines that have been so successful in the early part of the season. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have been split up. The team’s second line, consisting of Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky, and Troy Brouwer, has been blown to smithereens as well.

The Capitals also made a roster move this morning, recalling Tom Wilson from AHL Hershey and demoting Chris Brown. Brooks Laich, who suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury last week, did not skate with the team and will not play Wednesday. Trotz believes Laich may practice later in the week. Come on, baked goods, I thought you had magical healing powers!

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Photo: Angela M.

RMNB reader Angela M. (who is from our hometown of Frederick, Maryland) is doing something great. As part of her bucket list, she’s seeing a Washington Capitals game in every NHL arena. Tonight, she will be taking in a game from Calgary’s Saddledome, the 22nd venue in which she’s seen the Caps play.

Angela got a special treat before puck drop too. As she was making her way to the Saddledome, she ran into Caps rookies Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Sadly, Kuznetsov was not in his cowboy gear. Angela asked them for a picture, saying “it’s for RMNB.” They laughed and obliged.

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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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