NASHVILLE – Greetings from Music City and welcome to our All-Star edition of our six-pack of Capitals questions. Let’s get started:
Will the caps make a trade? @Teen_Titans23
Nothing like getting straight to the point. Yes, I think the Capitals will make a trade before the Feb. 29 trade deadline, and I think they are targeting a veteran defenseman. Part of that decision will hinge on the health of defenseman Brooks Orpik, who has missed the past 33 games with a lower body injury. But not all of it. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan has shown he is not afraid to pull the trigger on a big trade (Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and a pick for T.J. Oshie) and I could see him going hard after Vancouver Canucks pending free agent Dan Hamhuis, who spent the first six years of his NHL career under Barry Trotz in Nashville. Now 33, Hamhuis is recovering from facial fractures suffered on a Dan Boyle shot he took to the jaw back in December. Hamhuis needed extensive surgery to repair the fractures and is expected to return to the Canucks’ lineup in the next week or two. The Canucks are five points out of a wild card spot and could be willing to move Hamhuis, a reliable, two-way, 6-foot-1, 209-pound defenseman from Smithers, B.C. Hamhuis has a full no-move clause in his contract but would likely agree to be dealt to a Stanley Cup contender coached by Barry Trotz, who has a great deal of respect for Hamhuis on and off the ice. Hamhuis is in the final year of a contract that carries a cap hit of $4.5 million and could be slotted anywhere in the Caps’ top six. To get a player like Hamhuis, who has 841 games of NHL experience and 62 more in the playoffs, the Caps might have to part with their first-round draft pick, which could be the 30th pick overall, along with a prospect or roster player such as Stan Galiev.
chuck. Any concern with coaching staff that one game in almost two weeks, caps lose their mojo ? @jmfrie3
Yes and no. You can’t deny the Caps looked rusty in their 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers on Wednesday and it will be interesting to see how playing one game in 13 days will impact Tuesday night’s game against Jaromir Jagr and the Florida Panthers. The players are saying this break is a good thing, almost like a bye week in football where they can heal some banged-up bodies (especially for Alex Ovechkin). But to me the greater concern is the fact the Caps will play 35 games in about 71 days, depending on when they squeeze in those two snowed-out games against the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins. Makeup dates have not been announced by the NHL, but I’m hearing they could be March 1 against the Penguins and possibly two days after the original end of the regular season (April 11) for the Ducks. That’s a lot of games crammed together, with just five sets of two consecutive days without a game. A lot of players will say they like the routine of playing every other night and it will certainly prepare them for the playoffs, but the final 2½ months will be a grind.
For Friday 6pk. Should we be worried about #70 recent performance. Close to 3GAA and <.900SV% in last 4 games @paprmanjim
The numbers are a little concerning (9 goals in roughly 2½ games, .899 save percentage), but the Caps went 2-0-1 in those games and if you ask Holtby, that’s all he really cares about. Overall, Holtby ranks fifth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.07) and sixth in save percentage (.929). Both are very difficult numbers to maintain throughout a season and at some point you’d have to think the Caps and their goalie will go through a rough patch. That’s why no goalie in league history has won 50 games. That said, Holtby loves getting on the ice every day and is one of the hardest-working goalies in the NHL. He also has perhaps the best goalie coach in the league. With all of that, I don’t see Holtby stumbling badly down the stretch and I think it would be wise for the Caps to give Philip Grubauer at least six, maybe seven, of the Caps’ final 35 games.
So where is the media screaming about the sanctity of the All Star game now? If the stars don't show why bother? @walshy66
There are a lot of opinions out there when it comes to the Capitals’ decision to hold Alex Ovechkin out of Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game. Some say players have an obligation to the fans to attend showcase events like these. I agree and Barry Trotz said he would have liked nothing more than to have Ovechkin join him in Nashville, where Trotz is practically mayor of the city this weekend. But Trotz also made it clear that this was a team decision, not one made exclusively by Ovechkin, and that weeks of discussion went into it. Do I think there was fear of Ovechkin aggravating whatever injury he’s been nursing the past two months? Absolutely. Three weeks ago Trotz said he was concerned about the 3-on-3 All-Star format putting players at risk. (More on that subject later this weekend). Would the Capitals encourage their captain to miss the All-Star Game and take a mandatory one-game suspension if they were fighting for a playoff game? Not likely. But it’s been done many times before – enough times for the NHL to dole out suspensions for players who skip the All-Star Game – and if the Caps think it gives them a better chance of winning a Stanley Cup, it’s tough to make a strong argument against Ovechkin’s absence.
They negotiated suspensions in the CBA, for players that miss the All-Star Game due to injury? @JRTuttle4
Actually, the one-game suspension for healthy players missing an All-Star Game (suspended players reportedly are not docked pay) was adopted in 2008 at the urging of commissioner Gary Bettman because he felt too many stars were opting to rest nagging injuries. The league suspended Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk for missing the 2009 All-Star Game, but did not suspend Sidney Crosby because he attended the event and participated in interviews without actually taking part in the on-ice competitions. The league contends that if a player is healthy enough to play the game prior to the All-Star Game and is not injured in that game, he should participate.
status on mojo?? If not available for panthers would Richards slot into #3 center role? - @gr8willis
I wish I could give you more on Marcus Johansson’s injury. All I can say is that he appeared to be favoring his left arm before leaving the ice against the Flyers on Wednesday night. The Capitals have not provided much else and likely will not until the reconvene for practice at Kettler on Monday afternoon. If Johansson is sidelined, yes, look for Mike Richards to step into his spot at third-line center between Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson. Richards logged 13:04 of ice time on Wednesday, his highest total in four games with the Caps, but not much more than his average of 12:33. Richards has won 59 percent of his faceoffs so far and that would give the caps a nice one-two punch once Jay Beagle returns. But to get back to your question, I could see Richards moving into third-line center and Michael Latta playing fourth-line center with left wing Brooks Laich and right wing Stan Galiev.
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