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Happy Thanksgiving, hockey friends!

Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz kicked off the holiday by participating in the Arlington Turkey Trot 5k charity run/walk. Dressed in a turkey t-shirt with “Turkey Trotz” on the back, Trotz and his brood joined thousands of others to raise money for Doorways for Women and Families and Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless.

RMNB Readers and Anne and Lauren W were there. They shared a couple photos and their story.

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Ovi backchecking? You better believe it. (Photo: Luis M. Alvarez)

Jen Lute Costello of Puck Daddy recently wrote a nifty post about shot suppression. I’m paraphrasing her, but the basic idea is that there’s more to being a great possession team than simply having more shot attempts than the other team. While having more shot attempts than your opponent is the essential ingredient, it is optimal to also limit the number of overall shot attempts or “events” (the combined number of shot attempts between two teams in a game). Again, my paraphrasing does not do Jen’s great work justice, so I recommend reading her work.

The Capitals are a much better shot-possession team this season compared to last. But our optimism shouldn’t stop there. The Capitals aren’t just owning a higher percentage of overall shot attempts, they are also allowing fewer overall opponent shot attempts, so they’re owning the puck more AND better suppressing shot attempts against.

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Finding Roles for the Caps’ Misfits

Evgeny Kuznetsov is among the players for whom Barry Trotz has struggled to find a consistent spot in the line-up. (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty)

To break out of their slump, the Capitals needed offensive contribution from their second line. Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky scored four points each in the last three games, all Caps wins. Before that, when the Capitals struggled to get points, their third line featuring Joel Ward and Jason Chimera shone. Right now, the Caps have an eight-plus goal-scorer on each of their top three lines in Alex Ovechkin, Johansson, and Ward.

Coach Barry Trotz has found three successful pairs so far: Ovechkin-Backstrom, Johansson-Brouwer, Chimera-Ward. Andre Burakovsky seems to have secured second-line center position for now, which leaves two main vacancies in top nine: top-line right wing and third-line center.

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Photo: Sergei Belski

After the Capitals defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 Friday, Sovetsky Sport’s Leonid Varshavsky spoke to Caps rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov. The talented forward, scratched for the first time in his NHL career that night, spoke about his relationship with Barry Trotz and how he’s been adapting to life in America.

All in all, you see a player who readily admits that he still has a lot to learn before he becomes a great player in the NHL. “The hockey is different,” Kuznetsov says. “I understand now that you can’t compare KHL and NHL. It’s entirely different.”

“There’s little use for what you learned in the KHL,” he added. “You learn everything from scratch.”

RMNB’s Fedor Fedin has your translation below.

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Eric Fehr Just Wants to Find a Good Home

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Photo Credit: Patrick McDermott

Last year, Eric Fehr bounced around the lineup as Adam Oates struggled to find a spot for him. Some nights, Fehr would play center, not his natural position, on the third line. Other nights he would find himself in the press box, despite being one of the team’s top possession players. What he never got a chance to do was be a scoring-line winger, which the Capitals drafted him to be and a spot in which he’s shown promise in the past. Under Bruce Boudreau, Fehr also struggled to fit in, eventually forcing the Caps to ship him to Winnipeg for a fourth rounder and an irrelevant minor leaguer. With Barry Trotz, it looked like things might change, with Fehr starting the season on the top line.

“I just want to have a spot and consistently play, just not be moving around every night,” Fehr said in September.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

During Thursday morning’s practice, Barry Trotz debuted new lines (again). According to The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, these are the new combos.

Ovechkin – Backstrom – Wilson
Johansson – Burakovsky – Brouwer
Chimera – Laich – Ward
O’Brien – Latta – Beagle

And the extra forwards:

Kuznetsov – Fehr – Volpatti (IR)

With Brooks Laich’s shoulder finally healed, the lines had to be juggled. It appears Caps rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov will be scratched for the first time in his career against Chicago on Friday. Eric Fehr will join him in the press box, scratched for the second straight game.

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We Need to Talk About This Barry Trotz Bobblehead

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Over the last few years, Inova Blood Donor Services has held seasonal blood drives at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Each time, you guys come out in full force to help the community (you’re cool like that) and get the special perks that come with it. Not only do you help save a life, you also get a Caps player bobblehead and a t-shirt.

The next scheduled blood drive is on Saturday, December 6th. Tuesday night, Caps radio announcer John Walton released an image of the next bobblehead to be given out. It’s not a player.

It’s new Caps head coach Barry Trotz!

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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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It’s Mike Green’s world and we’re all just living in it.

On Tuesday morning, Hockey Night In Canada’s Elliotte Friedman published his latest 30 Thoughts column. The article mostly focused on Randy Carlyle’s hairy situation in Toronto, but it also featured six juicy tidbits of information on the Capitals.

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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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