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Caps' reliance on Holtby this season was not by design

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Caps' reliance on Holtby this season was not by design

ARLINGTON, Va. -- There are few sure bets when it comes to sports, but who will start in net for the Caps has become one of them. Over the course of the regular season, Braden Holtby played in 73 games and started in 72. He led the NHL in both categories.

For those who followed Trotz's career in Nashville, his reliance on Holtby may not have come as a surprise. While there, Trotz leaned heavily on goalie Pekka Rinne, who also played 73 games in the 2011-12 season.

When asked about Holtby, however, Trotz said this wasn't by design.

"Going into the season I was thinking about sort of 60-20 [games]," Trotz said. "After the first 20 games we sort of dug ourselves a little hole. We had to dig ourselves out a little bit. He got on a little bit of a roll in December and we stayed with it. One thing led to another and he just kept performing well."

Holtby finished the regular season with 41 wins, 9 shutouts and a .923 save percentage. Despite another phenomenal season by Alex Ovechkin, a strong case could be made that Holtby was actually the team's most important player.

"He had so many big moments during the year when we needed a big performance or you needed a big save, a timely save, Braden has been able to give you that," Trotz said. "I think that as he's grown, I think he's battle-hardened."

After so many games, however, the question for the Caps' netminder is if fatigue could potentially set in sometime during the postseason. Holtby already missed one start due to an unspecified illness against the New York Islanders. For Trotz, however, playing Holtby throughout the season may have actually meant more rest than more nights off.

"I found when I didn't play him he just stayed on the ice for two hours and instead of taking 40 shots a game he'd take 500. I think he was getting more tired doing that so I decided to just play him."

For his part, Holtby says fatigue is not a factor. When asked how his body was holding up now in the second round of the playoffs, Holtby said, “It’s fine. Obviously the playoffs are tough on guys, but that’s part of the fun of it is pushing your body a little."

RELATED: Capitals know they're in for a long series against Rangers

NOTES:

Schmidt recalled: Defenseman Nate Schmidt was with the team for practice on Sunday after being recalled on Saturday by the Caps.

Trotz said Schmidt was recalled in order to "get a feel for the series" in case of injury and as a precaution for an injury issue with Tim Gleason. Trotz would not specify what the issue was with Gleason saying only that it was related to shot blocking and was "somewhere on his body."

Gleason was not on the ice to begin practice, but came about halfway through the session.

Trotz, Gleason and Schmidt all seemed to believe Gleason would be ready for Game 3, but that Schmidt would take warmups with the team as a precaution.

PK KO'd: The Caps allowed their first power play goal of the playoffs in Game 4, snapping a streak of 17-straight penalty kills. Ending those streaks can be deflating for teams, but Jay Beagle said the penalty kill unit wasn't focused on their streak, but just with killing each individual penalty.

"You don’t pay attention to streaks, things like that this time of year," Beagle said. "It’s just getting a job done. We’re playing well on the PK. We’ve got to keep it going."

Overall, the Caps have killed 19 out of 20 penalties faced in the postseason. 

No Fehr: Trotz did not provide an update on Eric Fehr other than to say he would not be available for Game 3. Fehr has not played since suffering an upper-body injury in Game 3 against the New York Islanders.

PRACTICE LINES:

Ovechkin - Backstrom - Ward

Johansson - Kuznetsov - Chimera

Burakovsky - Beagle - Brouwer

Glencross - Laich - Wilson

Latta

Orpik - Carlson

Alzner - Niskanen

Gleason - Green

Schmidt - Orlov

MORE CAPITALS: Lundqvist on Ovechkin: 'He definitely surprised me'

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

The Capitals got their trade deadline started early by trading for defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Washington has been struggling of late, but do their new acquisitions address the team's weaknesses?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir evaluate the two trades and talk about where they could fit into the lineup.

You can listen to the latest episode here on the Capitals Faceoff page or with the player below.

Want even more great Capitals coverage? Follow @TarikNBCS and @JJReganNBCS on Twitter!

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

The Capitals continued to retool their scuffling blue line on Wednesday, acquiring 26-year-old defenseman Jakub Jerabek from Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The move comes a couple of days after GM Brian MacLellan dealt a conditional third-round selection to Chicago for swift skating Michal Kempny.

Both Jerabek and Kempny are left shot, puck-moving defensemen who move well and make crisp outlet passes. Both also hail from the Czech Republic.

RELATED: BRADEN HOLTBY BLAMES HIMSELF FOR TAMPA LOSS

The team sees Jerabek as a No. 5 or 6, I’m told.

On Wednesday, the Caps also officially said goodbye to Taylor Chorney, who was claimed off waivers by Columbus. Chorney will report to the Blue Jackets.

The Caps were off on Wednesday as they made their way Florida for Thursday night’s meeting with the Panthers, so it’s unclear how Coach Barry Trotz intends to deploy his new defensemen.

But it’s probably safe to assume that Kempny will move into a spot within the top four with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

MORE CAPITALS: GET TO KNOW MICHAL KEMPNY

That figures to leave Brooks Orpik and Jerabek on the third pair, while rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey jockey for position as the next man up.

Kempny is expected to make his Caps’ debut on Thursday night.

Is the Caps’ D corps better? Well, that remains to be seen. But it had become clear to MacLellan and Co. in recent weeks that the status quo was not going to cut it. This month, in fact, the team has allowed 39 goals in 10 games. Only the Rangers (40) have allowed more in the same span.

With the trade deadline looming next Monday, the Caps now have roughly $617,000 in cap space, according to www.capfriendly.com, and are at the roster maximum of 23 players. So they would need to make a move in order to add another body.