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'Carlzner' pairing to reunite Wednesday in game against Boston

'Carlzner' pairing to reunite Wednesday in game against Boston

Head coach Barry Trotz has not been shy about shuffling his lineup...at least on offense. Aside from the occasional Taylor Chorney appearance, the defensive pairings have remained the same all season. That changed towards the end of Monday's game against Buffalo and it appears those new pairs will stick on Wednesday.

That, of course, means the return of 'Carlzner.'

"I don't think any of us care who we play with, but me and [John Carlson] had some pretty good years together," Karl Alzner said. "We've had a lot of good chemistry and a lot of fun playing together too. I think it'll be exciting just to give it another shot."

RELATED: Oshie set to return to Caps' lineup Wednesday

As the Caps host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, Carlson and Alzner will reunite as a defensive pair. Both players came into the NHL at about the same time and spent several seasons playing alongside one another before the additions of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik dramatically shifted the team's blue line.

Alzner began the season playing alongside Niskanen in what became an effective shutdown pair. A pair of Carlson and Dmitry Orlov, however, two of the more offensively skilled defensemen on the team, has struggled.

Carlson remains in search of his first goal of the season while Orlov is stuck on one. In an attempt to find a better compliment to their offensive skills, Trotz moved Orlov up with Niskanen and brought Alzner down to play with his former partner, thus reuniting the fan-favorite pairing.

"I think they're a good compliment," Trotz said. "I think [Alzner] is a good two-way defenseman, but his strength is probably little more, if you have to classify him, is a little more stay at home where Carly can do both, but he obviously gets up on the play and adds to the offense. We'll see how that works."

Despite playing with Niskanen for the first 24 games of the season, Alzner is not expecting it will take much to adjust to playing with Carlson again.

"We know what the plays are at all times and we all do them the same way," he said. "The only thing I'd say is just remembering the voice that you're listening for because that can be a little bit tricky. Certain guys kind of walk the line different and get themselves available in different ways and [Carlson's] definitely different that [Niskanen] in that sense.

"We've already kind of figured that out in practice. It doesn't take long."

Despite the Caps' recent struggles, Washington has played well defensively. The team currently ranks fifth in goals against per game (2.21) and sixth in shots against per game (28.2).

The decision to bring back the famed 'Carlzner' pair, however, seems to have less to do with the defense than it does with adding a spark to a team trying to get back on track after losing three of its last four.

Said Alzner, "We're all interested in just injecting some life into everything: The game right now, offensively, trying to score some more goals. If we could help each other do that, [Niskanen] and [Orlov] can help each other do that, then good."

MORE CAPITALS: 3 bold predictions: Tough Rask at hand

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.