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Capitals blitzed by Sharks in 5-0 loss


Capitals blitzed by Sharks in 5-0 loss

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Joe Thornton scored a power-play goal in the first period and Mike Brown and Tomas Hertl followed with even-strength goals in the second, leading the Sharks and goaltender Martin Jones (31 saves) to the shutout. It was the first time the Caps hace been shut out since March 21 in Winnipeg and the first time they’ve been blanked at home since Nov. 14, 2014 when the Devils beat them 1-0. Jones has not allowed a goal since the season opener and has a shutout string of 135 minutes, 11 seconds. 

No Ovi: Alex Ovechkin missed the game due to personal reasons, forcing coach Barry Trotz to juggle three of his forward lines. Andre Burakovsky took Ovechkin’s spot as top-line left wing alongside center Evgeny Kuznetsov and right wing T.J. Oshie. On the power play, Stan Galiev and Matt Niskanen took turns playing in Ovechkin’s spot in the left circle.

Coach’s challenge: With 9:39 gone in the second period and the Caps trailing 3-0, defenseman Dmitry Orlov appeared to score his first goal since March 2, 2014 when he blasted a pass from Jason Chimera past Sharks goalie Martin Jones. But while the Caps were celebrating on the bench, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer was signaling for a coach’s challenge.

New to the NHL this season, a coach’s challenge can only be used for goalie interference and offsides. In this case, Jay Beagle skated through the crease and video replays showed his right arm grazed the glove hand of Jones. 

After about 2 minutes of review, referee Tim Peel waved off the call, saying Beagle had interfered with Jones, although his explanation was drowned out by boos from the crowd. 

Because the play on the ice was overruled, the Sharks retained their timeout and could use it later in the game for another challenge.

Miscues galore: The Capitals had troubles completing a pass throughout the first two periods, committing a total of 11 giveaways to the Sharks’ five.  Barry Trotz was forced to call a timeout after the Sharks went up 3-0. Orlov was the last man back on that goal by Hertl, leaving Nate Schmidt and Justin Williams to defend a 2-on-2. 

Chimmer train: Jason Chimera had a scary moment early in the third period when he careened full-speed into the net on a mad dash up the ice. Chimera was escorted into the net by Tommy Wingels, who was not penalized on the play. Chimera was favoring his left leg when he skated to the bench but stayed in the game and took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for jabbing at Thornton from the Caps bench. Before that, Chimera grazed a few Sharks as he made his way past the visitors’ bench. 

Early pull: Trotz went for broke early, pulling Braden Holtrby (27 saves) with just under 5 minutes remaining in regulation. Matt Nieto scored into the empty net with 2 minutes left and Trotz left the cage empty the rest of the way, allowing Chris Tierney to score another empty netter in the final minute. 

What’s next: The Caps are scheduled to practice at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.   

MORE CAPITALS: Orlov goal in second period waived off following coach's challenge

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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.”