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Alzner on losing two in a row: 'We hate it'


Alzner on losing two in a row: 'We hate it'

The Capitals and Dallas Stars are the only two teams in the NHL that have gone the entire season without suffering consecutive regulation losses. Ironically, both teams are 0-1-1 in their last two games and will look to break their losing streaks tonight.

While the Stars visit the Rangers, the Capitals will be in Boston to visit the Bruins. The Caps’ training camp goal of not losing back-to-back games this season was foiled by the Blue Jackets, who pulled out a 5-4 shootout win Saturday night in Columbus.

“That’s the thing about this team right now,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who has four goals in his last four games. “When we lose one we try to win the next one. We almost did against Columbus.

“They score the tying goal with like a minute left (1:08) and we had a chance in overtime to get the lead and in the shootout as well. The chemistry and the experience means a lot.

“We haven’t had that kind of slump where we go down and then go up like every (other) year. All this year we’re like the same level and it’s a good thing. We just have to stick with it and play the same way.”

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While the Stars are 11-1-0 following losses this season, the Caps are 8-0-1. Capas coach Barry Trotz said it was a stated goal before the season to avoid consecutive losses, but he noted the Caps managed to get a point out of their two-game road trip to Carolina and Columbus.

“One loss can turn into two, to three, to four pretty quick with the way the schedule is and the teams you can run into,” said Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, noting the Caps follow tonight’s game with visits to the Islanders in Brooklyn and the Rangers in New York.

“That’s why we (set a goal) like that. How do you manage to do it? That’s tough.

“The two biggest things is our desire to not lose. We hate it. The thought of another team celebrating on the ice with us is not something we want to have.

“The other thing is the attitude in the dressing room. We lose a game and the next day it’s like nothing ever happened. We’re still energetic and we’re still having fun in the ice and in the room. When you lose some guys aren’t playing great and that gets in your head. But we have a job as teammates to get everybody excited for the next game.”

So far, that strategy has worked. But with the Bruins coming off a humbling 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the New Year’s Day Winter Classic, the Caps know they’ll have their hands full tonight.

“I’m sure they’re fired up,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. “We want to play better than we have the last few games.

“Overall, we’re trying to get that mentality now that we want to win every game. We’re not satisfied. It’s something we really talk to each other about as players.

“It’s important we don’t look too far ahead, especially if you look at this road trip. Three really good teams, all in playoff spots, and it’s really important we play our best hockey and not get into a losing streak. It’s important to turn this around right away.”

MORE CAPITALS: Could injuries have Capitals exploring a trade?

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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Why the suggested tweak to the goalie interference rule makes sense to Barry Trotz


Why the suggested tweak to the goalie interference rule makes sense to Barry Trotz

Goalie interference has become one of the most controversial calls in hockey and that has led to the general managers calling for a tweak to the rules before the playoffs.

As the general managers wrapped up their meetings in Florida on Wednesday, they issued a recommendation to the league’s Board of Governors that the final decision for all coach’s challenges for goaltender interference come from the Situation Room in Toronto where a retired referee will be included in the process.

If approved, the change will be enacted for the start of the playoffs.

The issue with goalie interference is consistency. It is an inherently subjective call so on any given night, it is hard to know how the rule will be officiated. That is a problem considering these calls can take goals off the board. The hope is that by requiring that all calls be made by the Situation Room, it will bring more consistency.


The news was met by skepticism from Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer.

“I can't tell you right now at this point if that's going to change anything,” he said. “If they still communicate with the linesmen, I'm sure they do, but in the end it's a grey area and it's been a grey area for a bunch of years now.”

One issue with the change is that while the Situation Room will make the final call, it will not always have the same personnel for each game and the retired referee to be included will not always be the same individual. Saying the Situation Room will make the call sounds great, but if the calls are still being reviewed by different people every night, will that really lead to greater consistency?

Head coach Barry Trotz thinks so. He applauded the change Wednesday explaining that different factors can weigh on a referee when he is the one making the call.

“Some referees who are more established and more sure of themselves, they won't reverse their calls,” Trotz said. “They just almost say, that's the way I saw it and that's the way it is and live with it. Others get swayed by what they see or maybe the crowd or another coach or how the game is going. It's no different than the student marking their own papers. Let's have a non-emotional person who has no skin in the game and is not in an emotional environment to make those calls and I think you'll find it'll be more consistent.”


If the main issue of the goalie interference was the referees being made to judge their own calls, then yes, this new rule change will go a long way towards fixing the consistency problem.

But perhaps it is unreasonable to expect calls to ever be black and white on a play and a rule that never is.

“Every situation is different,” Grubauer said. “There's no situation that's the same. Did he get bumped in? Was it intentional? Was the goalie intentional making contact? All points they have to look at and it happens so fast. I hope it's going to get better and I hope they will get a foundation down for it.”