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Barry Trotz on Jakub Vrana: 'We expect him to be a longtime Capital'

Barry Trotz on Jakub Vrana: 'We expect him to be a longtime Capital'

A few hours after Jakub Vrana was reassigned to Hershey, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz expressed confidence that the former first round pick will develop into a productive NHL player.

He just needs more seasoning. And, of course, an opening in a Capitals’ lineup that currently does not have one.    

“I think the one thing that we’re pretty confident of is that he will be an NHL regular,” Trotz said of Vrana, the 13th overall pick in 2014. “We’re a deep team. He’s a 20-year-old player.”

Although Vrana did not produce a point in three preseason games, his speed and skill are obvious. It’s just as apparent, though, that he’s got learn to use his teammates more and try to beat defenders one-on-one less.  

“[Jakub] has done a lot of good stuff,” Trotz said. “He’s a guy who physically has matured and now has the strength. He’s started to produce in the American Hockey League. The problem is he hasn’t really produced at the National Hockey League level.”

Trotz added: “He’s worked on his defensive game, and it’s gotten much better. The wall play has gotten much better. Now, what we’d like to see from him is more of a pro game. In the American Hockey League, he can hang on to the puck a little bit more. I need him to give-and-go a little bit more. It’ll actually make him quicker, and he’s a quick player as it is. Right now, [he’s] just relying on carrying the mail a little bit much to have production at this level. But he’s 20 years old and he’s a pretty good talent. And he’s a fantastic kid. Got a great work ethic. We expect him to be a longtime Capital, for sure.”

Vrana was one of eight players reassigned to Hershey on Monday afternoon.

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John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

After losing Game 1 and Game 2 at home, Alex Ovechkin declared "It’s going to be fun when we bounce back and going to tie the series and come back here and play Game 5 at home.”

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella seems to be taking a similar tactic.

The Capitals won Game 5 in overtime on Saturday in a game that could prove to be emotionally draining for the Blue Jackets in a number of ways.

  • It was Washington's third straight win
  • Columbus was the better team for the majority of the game, but still took the loss
  • The Blue Jackets now face elimination despite holding a 2-0 series lead to start and losing only once in regulation

Tortorella has become famous for his fiery postgame press conferences in the past, including abruptly walking out after Game 4's presser when he declared "We sucked" to the media.

Saturday's was another fun one.

In a presser that lasted less than two minutes, Tortorella twice said, "We'll be back here for Game 7."

After such a draining game, Tortorella was asked how he would get them ready for what is sure to be an emotionally charged Game 6.

"I won't have to say a damn word to them," Tortorella said. "No. We'll be back here for Game 7."

The Blue Jackets will have to win Game 6 in Columbus to make that happen.

Barry Trotz was asked for his reaction after Tortorella's comments.

"What else are you going to say? That's good. He wants to get it out there, he believes in his team just as I believe in my team. It's our job for that not to happen."


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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 5

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 5

The Columbus Blue Jackets were the better team for large stretches of Game 5, but they ultimately weren't good enough. The Washington Capitals defended home ice for the first time this series and escaped with a 4-3 overtime win to take a 3-2 series lead and push the Blue Jackets to the brink.

Here's how Washington won Game 5.

A fluke bounce off of Sergei Bobrovsky’s back

Much was made coming into Game 5 of the fact that the road team had won every game to this point in the series. After winning two straight, it was imperative that for the Caps to come in and take advantage of the home crowd. But Columbus was the better team to start and scored a shorthanded tally for the game’s first goal. There was not much to like about the start…until a fluke bounce tied the game at one. Nicklas Backstrom had the puck behind the goal line and tried to feed it in front. Bobrovsky stuck his stick out to block the pass, but the puck had so much spin on it, it bounced up and off the netminder’s back into the net. A bad start ended up not costing Washington as the score was tied at 1 after the first.

The penalty kill

In the first two games of the series, the Caps gave up four power play goals on eight opportunities. Since then, Washington's PK has been lights out. The Caps gave up five power plays to Columbus in a penalty-filled contest, but killed off all five of them. Washington has not allowed a power play goal since Game 2, killing off 13 straight opportunities in the process.

A critical save by Braden Holtby

The Caps looked like they were out of gas in the third period. They held a 3-2 lead at the start, but yielded the game-tying goal to Oliver Bjorkstrand just 2:30 in and had to survive just to reach overtime. They were outshot 16-1 during that period. Luckily for them, Holtby was on point. All 15 saves Holtby made that period were critical, but none was better than highway robbery he committed on Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Considering how gassed the Caps looked that period, that goal would have been tough to come back from.

Nicklas Backstrom

There was no question who the player of the game was in this one. Backstrom scored the Caps' first goal off the back of Bobrovsky, then deflected in the overtime winner for his second goal of the game. But it goes beyond what he did on the ice. After the game, Barry Trotz said some of the team leaders stepped up in the locker room in between the third period and overtime. He would not name names, but did confirm Backstrom was one of those who spoke out.