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Penalties doom Caps in 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers

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Penalties doom Caps in 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers

Christian Djoos scored his second goal of the season, but it wasn’t enough for the turnover and penalty prone Caps, who surrendered the game’s first three goals and fell, 4-1, to the Panthers at Capital One Arena.

Two of Florida's goals came on the power play as the Caps formed a single file line to the penalty box. In fact, they were assessed six minors in the opening 33 minutes of the game—the second in two nights for both clubs.

My three stars of the game.

1-Vincent Trocheck

The 24-year-old second line center finished with a goal and an assist to help the Panthers earn just their third win in their last 14 visits to Washington. Trocheck’s second period strike—on a 5-on-3 power play with Lars Eller and Nicklas Backstrom both in the box—put Florida ahead 3-0.  

2-Christian Djoos

The rookie Dman potted his second goal of the season at 15:23 of the middle frame with the type of nice, patient move you’d expect from a veteran. He walked the puck off the wall through the circle and into the slot before sniping a shot past Reimer’s glove. Djoos—who was saluted by the fans with a ‘Djoooooooooos’—is the only Caps’ blue liner to score this season.

3-James Reimer

Although the Caps didn’t have many Grade-A opportunities, they did make Reimer put in a full day’s work. The 29-year-old stopped 41 shots, including all 13 he faced in a frantic third period as Washington pushed to pull closer. Reimer, who will assume No. 1 duties while starter Roberto Luongo recovers from a hand injury suffered Friday, came into the night with a .880 save percentage and a 4.12 goals against average. 

 Do you agree? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

A Capitals team that struggles after lengthy breaks is now indeed struggling after its return from the bye week. Since returning on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, the Caps have lost three straight games including two at home with only two points to show for their efforts.

Heading into the bye, Washington looked like one of the top teams in the NHL with 14 wins in 19 games. Now, they have taken a step back and are working at returning to the level they were playing just a week ago.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oh, and to make matters worse, the Caps do not play again until Thursday and then are off for the All-Star break.

It's Jan. 22 and Washington has only two more games this month. Even if they do figure things out on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, they will have to figure it out all over again when they return from the All-Star break on Jan. 31 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

So where do the Caps rank after their recent slide and how far could they fall if they do not right the ship? Find out here in this week's NHL Power Rankings!

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

It was a bit of a surprise to see Jakub Vrana in the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers. On Saturday in practice, Barry Trotz mixed his lines up and it appeared that Vrana would be the odd-man out. On Sunday, however, when the team took to the ice for warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Vrana lined up on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly.

Did the near scratch spark Vrana to more production? Not exactly.

RELATED: HERE'S WHY THE CAPS LOST TO PHILADELPHIA

Vrana played a career-low 6:25 against the Flyers. He had zero shot attempts or hits. There were only two stats on his stat line from the final box score: One giveaway and one drawn penalty.

Despite that, Trotz was complimentary of the 21-year-old forward following the game.

"What I like about Jake, he competed," Trotz said. "I know he doesn't have the minutes tonight, but he competed and that's what the message was. I met with him this morning and a little bit on the ice the other day and I just said the skill doesn't come out unless that level of desperation and compete is there night in, night out and then you'll have production. He didn't get a lot of ice time, but I was happy with his effort."

Trotz said Vrana's ice time was low because he the team was "hard matching" later in the game against Philadelphia. It was not because of how he played.

MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-FLYERS

But ultimately, the key is to get Vrana producing again and the fourth line is not the best place to spark that. Vrana has only one point in his last 12 games which is why it seemed to make sense that he would be a healthy scratch on Sunday. For a player with his offensive skill, it is harder for him to make an impact on that back line given the limited minutes and the more defensive role. Ultimately he has to play in the top-nine in order to reach his potential on a game by game basis.

If Trotz wanted to spark more compete and more effort from Vrana, the move to the fourth line may have done the trick. But did he play well enough to warrant moving back into the top-nine? That's the ultimate question.