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GM Brian MacLellan doesn't think Penguins were clearly better than Capitals

GM Brian MacLellan doesn't think Penguins were clearly better than Capitals

In a wide-ranging interview with reporters on Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan addressed a variety of topics, from the team being “angry” and “agitated” about their second-round exit from the playoffs to the need to having better forward depth. In Part Three, MacLellan discusses defenseman Dmitry Orlov, his opinions on the Caps’ six-game elimination by the Penguins and Evgeny Kuznetsov possibly running out of gas down the stretch:

RELATED: Q&A Part 1Q&A Part 2

On balancing risk vs. reward with the Caps’ young defensemen:

Especially with Orlov. I call him a high-event player. At both ends there’s some events going on. But he’s learning. You like it on the one end and you’re living with stuff on the other end. Todd (Reirden) is working with him. How do you eliminate the errors and get them down to a level that’s acceptable for us as a team and then still contribute offensively? I think he’s still trying to figure that out. I think in the playoffs there was probably a little too much concern with not making the errors and you want him to create some offense. You want him to shoot the puck, you want him to join the rush, you want him to make plays through the middle of the instead of flipping pucks. I think it’s just a learning process and the more he plays the better he’s going to get.

On Barry Trotz rotating defensemen in and out of the lineup in the playoffs:

Because we had some depth, because guys were pretty similar with their skill sets, I don’t think it hurts for a guy to go up (in the press box) and watch a game and then get thrown back in it.  Maybe it hurts their confidence, maybe it doesn’t. I guess it depends on the delivery from the coaches if it does or it doesn’t. It is what it is.

On if the Penguins were clearly better:

No, I don’t think they were clearly better.

I think if you looked at all the shot statistics they were pretty much equal. Maybe we had an advantage in scoring chances. I think the goaltending was pretty much equal. It was a close series. I think in hindsight, I think we missed opportunities.  I think Justin Williams says it the best in that you need to recognize those opportunities and you need to take advantage of them and step up.

I think Game 1 we got away with one. They probably slightly outplayed us but we won the game. And then Game 2, I thought was a big chance for us to make a statement and we didn’t. We came out flat. Those first two periods were not played well. That’s a point you’ve got to recognize we didn’t play well (in Game 1), we need to step up, we need to win these two games at home.

The (Kris) Letang suspension, we should have recognized that as a game we could put a lot more pressure on their defensemen. I felt we played a little too conservative that game and they stepped up, covered up for missing Letang.

And then Game 6 the (Brooks) Orpik double-minor they took advantage of it. (Karl) Alzner got hurt and they stepped up and took advantage of it. And then we got the delay of game penalties, we responded by scoring the two goals. And then I thought our point for the series was the Letang penalty at the end. Our power play was so aggressive through the three delay of game penalties and I thought it got hesitant at the end. It was not as aggressive, like this is our chance to win the game. It became a little more conservative. It was too conservative.

So I think we missed those opportunities to beat Pittsburg in an otherwise even series. I think if there’s anything we learned you’ve got take advantage of these situations.  You’ve got to recognize them first of all. I don’t know that we did the best job of recognizing them. Maybe it’s easier in hindsight, but it was an evenly played series and I think those moments were the result of us being one goal less.

On if a general manager can remedy that, or if it’s up to players:

I think it’s a learning experience. Talking to guys at the end of the year here I think in hindsight they recognize it. I think Williams kind of stressed it during the two series, about that. I think the leadership within the room does that. But I think it’s learning.

On Evgeny Kuznetsov finishing the regular season with no goals in his final 20 games and netting just one goal and one assist in 12 playoff games:

“I think for him, maybe he ran out of gas a little bit. He put in a good regular season and I don’t know that he finished the year that well offensively. I think it’s playing 100 games. The previous year, you could say he finished strong but the first part of the year wasn’t as hard on him, I don’t think. He was learning and finding his way. This year put a little more pressure because of the success he had. I think there’s a rhythm, there’s a pace to a season. There’s 100 games that you’re playing and it gets ramped up the farther you go. And I don’t think he had enough gas in the tank at the end, in my mind, to play the way he wanted to.

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3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia


3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia

Playing three games in four days takes a toll on even the fittest athletes, and it was their sluggish start that doomed the Capitals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

After being noncomittal about his starting goalie all weekend, Coach Barry Trotz put Philipp Grubauer in net. Grubauer ended up making 29 saves on 34 shots. Offensively, the Caps got goals from Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, and John Carlson. Carlson's third period goal cut the Flyers' lead to two with a little over three minutes to go, but a Jakub Voracek empty-netter a few moments later was the nail in the coffin. 

Here are your three stars from the game: 

1. Travis Boyd had the play of the game for the Capitals. Boyd carried the puck into the Flyer's zone, cut through multiple defenders and fired a slick shot to a streaking Ovechkin, who burried the puck in the back of the net. Check it out: 

Not only was the play nice on its own, but it was Boyd's first NHL point. Not a bad way to get it. 

2. Shayne Gostisbehere​ got the Flyers going with his goal in the first period. The defenseman had one goal on five shots along with being an intimidating force in the defensive zone. After going six weeks without scoring, today's goal was Gostisbehere's second goal in three games. 

3. Wayne Simmonds was the best offensive player on the ice on Sunday, scoring twice - both in the final period. It was the 22nd and 23rd goals of the season for the 29-year-old winger. It was also the first multi-goal game for Simmonds since Opening Night, when he had two against San Jose. 

The Caps hit the ice next on Tuesday, when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Capital One Center. 

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

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

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


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers 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)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers 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.