Capitals

Quick Links

You aren't alone—Trotz thought Kuznetsov was going to shoot, too

usatsi_9804344_1.jpg

You aren't alone—Trotz thought Kuznetsov was going to shoot, too

No, you weren’t the only person wondering what Evgeny Kuznetsov was thinking when he passed up a prime scoring chance in overtime against Arizona.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz was befuddled by No. 92’s decision, too.

Asked if he’d like to see Kuznetsov shoot the puck more, Trotz joked on Friday morning: “Yeah, absolutely. Especially when he’s in the blue paint.”

“I was ready to jump up because I thought he was sticking it in the net,” Trotz continued. “Then all of a sudden it was in the corner.”

RELATED: TOUGH GUY TOM WILSON GETS FOSTER PUPPY

As you can see, Kuznetsov wasn’t actually in the blue paint. But he was close enough that he shouldn’t have attempted to finish a give-and-go with T.J. Oshie, either.

As it turned out, Kuzy’s odd decision didn’t end up costing the Caps because John Carlson scored the game-winner a short while later. The decision did, however, lead to a broader discussion of whether Kuznetsov needs to get a little more selfish and use his dangerous shot more often.

“I think what it does when he does shoot [is] it will open up his wingers for him, too, because everyone is shading to the wingers right now because they think he’s just looking for his wingers,” Trotz said. “He’s just got to shoot a little bit more. Be more of a threat.”

“He’s a threat gaining the zone,” he added. “He’s a threat when he gets to the top of the circles and then he’s looking to dish a little bit. And he can shoot the puck. I use his stick, so I know. He’s learned from me. No, he can really shoot it and he’s accurate.” 

MORE CAPITALS: DON'T EXPECT A BACKSTROM-OVI REUNION YET

As the Caps prepare to host the rival Penguins, Kuznetsov is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the team lead in points with 18 (3 goals, 15 assists). In shots, though, he’s third with 37, behind Ovechkin (league-best 78) and Carlson (55). Kuznetsov’s shot total is tied for 116th in the NHL.

In addition to giving Kuznetsov a ribbing about passing from the slot, Trotz also gave his star center, who has never scored more than 20 times in a season, a new goal to shoot for this year.

“You need him to be a 25 goal scorer every year, not a 10-goal scorer,” Trotz said. “You need 25 out of him and he’s very capable of that. So yeah, absolutely, we want him to shoot more.”

LISTEN TO THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST

Quick Links

Game 58: Capitals at Blackhawks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

usatsi_9678896.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Game 58: Capitals at Blackhawks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.

When: 8:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blackhawks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Blackhawks game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

The Capitals (33-17-7) take on the Blackhawks (24-26-8) Saturday, February 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET in Chicago.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Blackhawks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 7:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 8:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 11:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 12:30 a.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

7:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
8:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blackhawks
11:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
12:30 a.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Blackhawks game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Brett Connolly - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - Alex Chiasson
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Jakub Vrana, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

The Capitals-Blackhawks game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

Quick Links

NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart

usatsi_10577231.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart

A week by week look at where the race for the major individual NHL awards stands and which Caps could be in contention.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been red-hot as of late and so has Evgeni Malkin. In his last nine games, Malkin has tallied a whopping 11 goals and 17 points. His current run has some people talking about him contending for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

But if you want to talk about Malkin for the Hart, you have to talk about Alex Ovechkin as well.

Malkin has 66 points this season, Ovechkin has 65. Even with his impressive goal run of late, Malkin still trails Ovechkin in the goal-scoring race 34-32. What's more, Ovechkin's Capitals still hold a three-point lead over Pittsburgh with two games in hand in the Metropolitan Division.

Granted all of this could change by next week. Perhaps Malkin will pass Ovechkin in goals or the Penguins will pass the Caps in the standings which will change the conversation. Until then, however, there's no way to push Malkin's Hart candidacy without thinking about Ovechkin. What he is doing at the age of 32 with a Capitals team in which no one really knew what to expect is more impressive than what the 31-year-old Malkin is doing with players like Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby with the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is third among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With two rookies on the blue line and an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Braden Holtby

In contention for: Vezina

Holtby is on pace to be a 40-win goalie for the fourth consecutive season. He would be the first goalie in NHL history to accomplish that feat.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

If Malkin is a Hart candidate, so is Ovechkin who has done more with less in Washington this season.

Barry Trotz

In contention for: Jack Adams

The Caps still hold a three-point lead in the Metropolitan Division despite having two rookies on the blue line, dealing with more injuries than they have seen in years and down offensive years for some of its top players. Trotz deserves a lot of credit for that.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!