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Capitals beat up on each other in sparring match


Capitals beat up on each other in sparring match

Through 16 games this season, the Capitals have suffered four regulation losses and each of them has come following a break of two or more days in the schedule. Barry Trotz doesn’t think that’s a coincidence, so he turned Monday’s practice into a game.

In his first practice since Friday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames, Trotz had his first and first and fourth forward lines dress in white jerseys and his second and third forward lines dress in red. Then he told them to go at it in a hard-hitting scrimmage.

“They’re not going to kill each other, but we wanted to get the intensity,” Trotz said. “That’s why we made a competition out of it -- with consequences.”

On two separate occasions, Alex Ovechkin of the white team and Marcus Johansson of the red team were checked hard to the ice and were slow to get to their feet. The red team handily won the scrimmage and was awarded post-scrimmage shootout drills. The white team was forced to do sprints.

“I think everybody needed that and liked that,” Johansson said. “We really worked. It was good.”

 “That wasn’t quite training camp level, but it was as close as it gets,” Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “We talked on Saturday and guys sensed that was coming. That’s good.”


With back-to-back games against the Red Wings in Detroit on Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN) and at home against Dallas on Thursday (7 p.m., CSN), Trotz is trying to manufacture some kind of game rhythm for his players, who will play seven games in 11 nights following their current four-game break.

“Just like anything, when you have a little bit of a vacation or a three-day weekend, that first day back sometimes you don’t feel like you get anything done, right?” Trotz said.

“It probably applies to sports a little bit. You think you’ll be rested and sharp and ready to go, and you’re not. You lose the game touches. When you’re playing every other night you’re in a rhythm, you feel time and space better. When you get days off you can’t really replicate that.”

The Red Wings, on the other hand, were in action Monday night against the Ottawa Senators. In their first year under head coach Jeff Blashill the Wings are trying to untrack an offense that managed two or fewer goals in six straight games heading into their game in Ottawa, including a 1-0 win last Tuesday against the Caps, a game in which Ovechkin launched 15 shots at goaltender Petr Mrazek.

Niskanen said that although the Caps are playing better now than they were a year ago under Trotz, they are not playing their best hockey.

“Systematically, we’re way ahead of where we were last year,” Niskanen said, “but we have a long ways to go to get to the level we can get to.”

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal


Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”


Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

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


The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


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

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

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Michal Kempny

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek


The Capitals-Panthers 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.


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.