Quick Links

Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

usatsi_9707317.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

Lars Eller did not practice on Monday, and coach Barry Trotz shuffled his injury-depleted defense corps.

Here’s how everyone lined up:

Forwards

Burakovsky – Backstrom – Oshie

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Vrana

Connolly – Graovac – Wilson

Smith-Pelly – Beagle – Chiasson

Walker

Defense

Orpik – Bowey

Djoos – Carlson

Orlov – Chorney

Ness

Goalies

Holtby

Grubauer

RELATED: Caps destroyed by Flyers in lopsided road loss

Some notes, quotes and observations from KCI:

  • Trotz said Eller showed up sick and was sent home to recover and avoid spreading whatever he’s got. Trotz also isn’t sure whether the veteran center will be able to suit up against Toronto on Tuesday. “I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t answer that right now. We’ll see where his energy level is.”

 

  • The coaching staff shuffled the D-pairs with speedy Toronto coming to town. But Trotz also cautioned not to read too much into the tandems, since they’re likely to change throughout Tuesday’s game. Trotz even hinted that a final decision on which six D-men will suit up had not yet been made. “They’re going to be shuffled from now until we get people back,” Trotz said, referring to the injured Matt Niskanen, who is week-to-week with an upper body injury. “There are pairs for practice. There are pairs for parts of games. It’ll be a little bit situational.”

 

  • If defenseman Taylor Chorney does get back into the lineup, he knows that he needs to make a positive impression after sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch. “I’ve been through this quite a bit over the last couple of years, but at the same time you probably want to make a little bit of a statement,” he acknowledged. “So for me, if I do get the opportunity to play, it would be a big game.”  

 

  • Speaking of the Leafs, they’re off to a 4-1-0 start with Auston Matthews (5 goals, including two OT winners) leading the way. Overall, Toronto is averaging a league-leading 5.2 goals per game. As you might imagine, Trotz had a lot of praise for last season’s first round opponent in general and Matthews specifically. “If he was playing 20 years ago, we’d be saying he’s Mario Lemieux-like,” Trotz said. “He’s six-foot-[three]. He skates great. He’s got unbelievable hands. And a hockey I.Q. and he’s strong on the puck.”  

 

  • As Washington attempts to turn the page from Saturday’s 8-2 clunker in Philly, Trotz said one area he’d like to see shored up is the number of shots the Caps have been allowing. Through six games, they’re yielding 34.5 shots on goal per game (tied for ninth most). Last year, they allowed 27.8 (fourth best). “We’re not as structured defensively,” Trotz said. “We haven’t put as big an emphasis this year as we did last year. We’ve put a little more emphasis on trying to replace some of the goals that we lost. But right now we have to get a little more balance. …We have to get that back into balance; we practiced some of that today.”

 

  • As you may remember, Madison Bowey’s father, Will, jumped on the first flight out of British Columbia that he could find in the hopes of catching his son’s NHL debut Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center. As it turned out, though, he experienced a couple of travel delays and didn’t make it. Dad will, however, be in attendance Tuesday night.

 

MORE CAPS: Nicklas Backstrom shines among NHL's top stars

Quick Links

Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom named one of NHL's 3 stars for standout week

usatsi_10325420.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom named one of NHL's 3 stars for standout week

Nicklas Backstrom has been the Capitals’ best player so far this season, according to coach Barry Trotz. And he was recognized for his play on Monday when the NHL named him third star of the week.

No one had more points over the past week than the Caps’ star center, who racked up three goals and six assists in four games.

Trotz praised Backstrom for his point production — and his play on the other side of the puck.   

“He’s been really good,” Trotz said. “Nick has been all business. He’s playing very well. He’s been our best player, no question, with balance in his game. Nick’s balance in his game is really good—on my soap box again—and that’s what makes him one of the best two-way centermen in the National Hockey League. ”

RELATED: Andre Burakovsky's first NHL fight

Last season, Backstrom didn’t get his third goal until the 16th game (en route to a 23-goal campaign). In six games this season, the 29-year-old has three goals and eight helpers.

First star of the week was Winnipeg winger Nikolaj Ehlers (five goals, two assists), while Toronto center Auston Matthews (four goals, including two OT winners) received second star honors.

On Tuesday at Capital One Arena, it’ll be second star versus third star as Matthews and the Leafs take on on Backstrom’s Caps.

MORE CAPS: How the Caps flopped in Philly

Quick Links

Instant Analysis: Capitals blitzed by Flyers, served lopsided road loss

grubauer-fail-flyers-usat.png

Instant Analysis: Capitals blitzed by Flyers, served lopsided road loss

A night after firing on all cylinders in a Friday road-win against the Devils, the Capitals (3-2-1) were blitzed and pressured by the Flyers (3-2-0) for three full periods on Saturday night, with Philipp Grubauer surrendering eight goals.

The end result was a lopsided 8-2 loss on in Philadelphia. 

How It Happened: The Flyers were the penultimate team to make their home-opner, with over a full day off since their last game. The Capitals, on the other hand, were facing their first second game of a back-to-back road trip. It was clear which team had fresher legs, with the Flyers blitzing and pressuring the Capitals for the entirity of the 6-goal victory.

Veteran Claude Giroux (2g, 2a) and young gun Sean Couturier (2g, 1a) led the onslaught, with the Flyers outshooting the Capitals (37-23) in all three periods. 

Jakub Vrana netted a goal for the second consecutive night, doing so midway through the first period to even the score 1-1. But the relentless pressure began the break the Capitals as the first period came to a close. Scott Laughton's shorthanded goal with just ove a minute remaining stretched the lead to 2-1. The first intermission couldn't save the Capitals, as Wayne Simmonds (1g, 1a) buried a beautiful feed from Jakub Voracek (0g, 3a) past Grubauer to extend the lead to 3-1. From there, the game was out of reach, with only a Nicklas Backstrom (1g, 0a) goal registering for the Capitals. Another goal for the Flyers made it 5-2 at the end of the second.

The Flyers beat the Capitals to the puck and to the net in the third period as well, registering three more goals. When the horn flowed sounded, the Caps skated off the ice with a 8-2 loss.

Bowey's Debut Hardly Memorable: Madison Bowey was the latest Caps' prospect to make his NHL debut, and it was not one he's likely to remember with much fondest. Bowey got the nod following Matt Niskanen's trip to the Injured Reserve, and while Bowey still has a bright future ahead of him, Saturday night provided a "welocme to the league" experience.

It's wasn't entirely his fault, the Capitals — as a team — struggled against the Flyers, but Bowey's 14:55 of ice time was littered with rookie mistakes. Voracek sent Bowey back to school early in the game, catching the 22-year-old out of position before dishing the puck to Wayne Simmonds for the Flyers' third goal of the game.

Bowey finished with a -3 plus/minus rating and was on the ice for five of the Flyers' goals. 

Looking Ahead: The Capitals get to head home and rest up for the first showdown against Auston Matthews.

The Toronto Maple Leafs head to town on Tuesday, Oct. 17  for the first meeting between the two teams since there memorable first-round series of the 206-17 playoffs.