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Barry Trotz has some tough words for the Caps' defensive prospects following Friday's loss

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Barry Trotz has some tough words for the Caps' defensive prospects following Friday's loss

From the outside looking in, there wasn’t much on the line in the Capitals’ preseason game on Friday against the St. Louis Blues. Washington’s 4-0 loss won't hurt them in the standings, it won't hurt their playoff or Stanley Cup hopes.

But for many of the players, especially several of the defensive prospects, Friday’s game mattered a whole lot. That's what made it so disappointing.

“We didn’t have a lot of skin in the game there,” Barry Trotz told reporters following the loss.

RELATED: TYLER GRAOVAC IS THE SILVER LINING IN AN UGLY LOSS TO BLUES

Assuming the Capitals keep seven defensemen on their roster this season, there are two open spots on the blue line that players are competing for. Friday’s game offered Lucas Johansen, Christian Djoos, Aaron Ness and Tyler Lewington, who played with veterans John Carlson and Taylor Chorney, a chance to take the lead in the roster competition.

But they, along with the rest of the team, ultimately fell flat.

“It's one of those things where you come out flat in first two periods, you can't really expect to win a hockey game,” Ness said. “Your goalie's trying to make so many saves … it’s kind of unexcusable [sic] to do that to them in the first two.”

It was a rough game and a missed opportunity.

When asked if any of the defensemen had separated themselves, Trotz slowly shook his head and said, “No, not really.”

When asked if that was disappointing, he said, “Depending which way you look at it, I guess. Some guys have separated themselves in a positive way a little bit more than others and some more of a negative way. They'll figure it out. It plays out, we're just watching. I'm not too happy with our effort tonight. … I thought [the] group that was in Montreal was pretty solid. They came to play. Tonight we just didn't.”

That’s a damning statement considering Montreal’s game featured other defensemen competing for a spot such as Madison Bowey, Connor Hobbs, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jonas Siegenthaler and Colby Williams.

Clearly Wednesday's squad left an impression on Trotz. Friday's team left a much different, more disappointing one.

MORE CAPITALS:  LET'S TALK ABOUT HOW THE DEFENSE DID AGAINST ST. LOUIS

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

Madison Bowey’s second game went a lot better than his first and it’s not just because the Caps allowed only two goals as opposed to eight.

Despite being thrust into a significant role in his first taste of NHL experience, Bowey seemed to settle in a bit in his second contest even as it came against the NHL’s best offense in the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Just everything in the first game felt like it happened so quick, I think,” Bowey said Thursday after the team’s practice. “It was obviously nice to come back in Washington and play in the home in front of the home crowd, get a practice in on Monday before the game Tuesday with the team. Just all the little factors that went into it definitely helped and I think it definitely felt a lot smoother out there on the ice.”

RELATED: BURAKOVSKY DEMOTED TO THIRD LINE

Playing at home definitely has its benefits for the coaching staff as they try to protect the rookie defensemen. Home teams get the chance to change after the visiting team allowing the coaches to pick the matchups they want for Bowey.

More favorable matchups certainly helped him, but Bowey also seemed to play with more confidence and a level of calm that was not there against Philadelphia. For Bowey, the difference was having time to settle in and practice with the team.

“Obviously this team is one of the veteran teams in the league so to be able to practice against top players in the league, it goes a long way,” Bowey said.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS SHOULD NOT TRADE PROSPECT IIYA SAMSONOV

Bowey was called up for a Saturday game in Philadelphia after Matt Niskanen suffered a hand injury Friday in New Jersey. That means he quickly had to join the team and jump into the lineup for his first ever NHL game without any practice with the Caps at all.

Bowey now has two practices and two games under his belt and even a team-building day at FBI training. The effect that has had on his game was noticeable on Tuesday. It should be even more clear on Friday as the team travels to face the Detroit Red Wings.

“I feel myself improving every day,” Bowey said. “It forces you to really work hard and be on your top every day you come to the rink so for me, just having those two practices already have been huge. I feel the development's getting a lot better early.”

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Game 8: Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 8: Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings

Where: Little Caesar's Arena, Detroit, Mich.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET. Coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with Capitals FaceOff.

How to Watch: Capitals at Red Wings will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus. (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals at Red Wings game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-RED WINGS GAME?

The Capitals (3-3-1) take on the Red Wings (4-3-0) Friday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Little Caesars's Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-RED WINGS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Red Wings game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus. Capitals FaceOff gets things started at 6:30 p.m. ET followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington Plus following the game for Caps Extra followed by Caps Overtime and Caps in 30 for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:30 p.m. — Capitals @ Red Wings
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps OverTime
 

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-RED WINGS GAME?

The Capitals-Red Wings game, as well as the pre and postgame shows, 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.

WHAT ARE THE LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-RED WINGS GAME?

Here are the projected lines:

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

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches
Nathan Walker, Aaron Ness, Tyler Graovac (injured), Matt Niskanen (LTIR)

CAPITALS-RED WINGS 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.