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Coach Barry Trotz shuffles lines as Caps look to end slide in Edmonton

Coach Barry Trotz shuffles lines as Caps look to end slide in Edmonton

Coach Barry Trotz scrambled his forward lines ahead of Saturday’s game in Edmonton, where the Caps will be looking to stem a two-game slide against Connor McDavid and the Oilers (10 p.m. NBC Sports Washington).

Here’s how Trotz had his forwards lined up:

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Smith-Pelly

Vrana – Backstrom – Oshie

Stephenson – Eller – Wilson

Chiasson – Beagle – Peluso

Here’s what you need to know about that alignment:

  • Nicklas Backstrom appears set to return after missing Thursday’s game with an illness. Which, of course, is huge for a banged-up Caps' team that has been limited to two or fewer goals in four of the last five games.
  • Brett Connolly looks to be out after taking that big hit from Canucks Dman Erik Gudbranson. Connolly was placed in the concussion protocol after leaving Thursday's game in the second period. He could be out Sunday in Calgary, too.
  • A couple of days after Trotz hinted that he envisioned a promotion in Devante Smith-Pelly’s future, and that he suspected Smith-Pelly could complement “higher-end” players, we’re going to see top-six DSP for the first time. Chiasson skated with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov in Vancouver; now Chiasson is back on the fourth line.
  • Chandler Stephenson, who scored his first NHL goal in Vancouver, slides over to the wing and replaces Connolly on Lars Eller's line. Jakub Vrana, meantime, returns to the top-six.
  • Anthony Peluso, who was recalled from minor league Hershey, will skate on the fourth line. As I wrote Friday, part of the reason the Caps opted to recall Peluso as opposed to a prospect is this: he's played 142 NHL games and, at 6-3 and 225 pounds, can serve as a bit of deterrent vs. an Oilers’ team that’s got some ruggedness in Zack Kassian, Milan Lucic, etc. If things get rough, it also means Peluso—and not Tom Wilson—can answer the bell.   
  • Braden Holtby is expected to start, which could mean Philipp Grabauer will get the backend of back-to-back. Again.

 

RELATED: WITH THE INJURIES CONTINUING TO PILE UP, THE CAPS MAKE ANOTHER CALL-UP FROM HERSHEY

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Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

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The Hershey Bears

Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The contracts of Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann and Bears assistant coach Ryan Murphy will not be renewed for next season, the Capitals announced Wednesday. Hershey finished in last place in the Atlantic Division and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“Troy is a dedicated and hard-working coach and we appreciate all he has done for the Hershey Bears,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “At this point, we feel a fresh approach and a change in leadership is needed in order for us to continue to develop our young players towards the next level and for success at the AHL level. We also want to thank Ryan for his contributions to the Hershey Bears and wish him all the best.”

Just two seasons ago, the Bears under Mann were playing the Calder Cup Finals where they lost in four games to the Lake Erie Monsters. Mann served as an assistant coach for Hershey from 2009-2013 and was hired as the head coach in 2014. He led the Bears to a record of 162-102-22-18 during his tenure, good for sixth all-time among Hershey coaches in wins.

Mann coached several current Capitals players in Hershey including Travis Boyd, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Philipp Grubauer, among others. Hershey also currently boasts several of the Caps' biggest prospects such as Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Riley Barber and Jonas Siegenthaler.

Murphy was with the Bears for all four years of Mann's tenure. He started in video development in Mann's first season and was promoted to assistant coach the following year.

“We’d like to thank Troy Mann and Ryan Murphy for their contributions to the Hershey Bears organization,” said Hershey vice president of hockey operations, Bryan Helmer. “While we are looking to move our hockey club forward, today is certainly an emotional day. I had the pleasure of working with both Troy and Ryan behind the bench for two seasons, and consider them to be great people. We wish both all the best in future endeavors.”

Coaching in the AHL is a tough job as coaches are expected to bring the team success while also developing their NHL club's prospects. There are times when the two goals do not necessarily line up which can make it a difficult balance.

Considering how important it is to develop talent from within, AHL coaches are very significant parts of an organization. Getting the right guy in charge of Hershey won't just boost the AHL team, but will help the Caps down the line with developed players.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

We all knew this was coming, right?

The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the 11th time in franchise history. Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once in their previous 10 series. This season gives them the opportunity to get over the second round and Pittsburgh hump once and for all.

Will this year be different? Will the Caps finally take down their arch nemesis? Will they finally advance to the conference final?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps-Penguins matchup in the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page