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Holtby braces himself for All-Star barrage


Holtby braces himself for All-Star barrage

Capitals netminder Braden Holtby has heard all the horror stories about how being victimized in an NHL All-Star Game could affect his confidence when the regular season resumes. He doesn’t buy it and neither does his goalie coach, Mitch Korn.

“I’ve never seen it really mess anybody up,” Korn said when asked about Holtby’s first foray into an All-Star Game. “(Anaheim Ducks goaltender) Jonas Hiller was very unfortunate. He got hit in the head in the All-Star Game (in 2011), which led to vertigo, which cost him the majority of that season.

“So, there’s always that risk, but this is uncharted territory because this year’s All-Star Game is different than it has ever been before.”

Tonight, for the first time, the All-Star Game will be a round-robin tournament broken into three 20-minute games of 3-on-3 hockey. The winners of the first two games will face each other in a 20-minute championship game.

Each of the eight goalies will be asked to play 10 minutes. Holtby said he gets the fact that there may be more eye-popping moves than eye-popping saves. And he’s cool with that.

“As a fan I’d rather see the players turn on the skill,” Holtby said. “The goalies, we’ll try to survive. Thank God it‘s only 10, possibly 20 minutes.”

“It’s far from normal hockey,” said Korn, who is attending his first NHL All-Star Game. “If I gave anybody any advice at all it’s to enjoy it. Make friends that you may have never known before and smell the coffee. In the roles we play, unfortunately, we never smell the coffee enough. Or the roses, you know what I’m saying. Enjoy the moment.”

Holtby was asked his opinions on a variety of topics in his first All-Star Weekend experience. Among them:

On the most dynamic duo in the NHL:

“I haven’t played against (Jamie) Benn and (Tyler) Seguin this year, so I’d have to give (Claude) Giroux and (Wayne) Simmonds some credit. On their power play and the way they move, they’re on the same page with screens and everything from the halfwall. I don’t know if it’s just against me or what it is, but they make it extremely hard.”

On why he loses his mask so often:

“The snaps come off on shots. The biggest problem with me is that by the middle of the game the chinstrap has no elasticity to it. It’s extremely tight at the start of the game and then halfway through it’s extremely loose.”

On being on the radar of Team Canada for the 2016 World Cup of Hockley in Toronto in September:

“It would be pretty special. I don’t have a whole lot of history playing for Team Canada so it would be pretty cool to throw that jersey on and play against and with the best players in the world. It would be fun. Obviously, it’s going to be a great show being in Toronto, but that’s a long ways away. I have a lot of improving to do in order to give the Capitals the best chance in the playoffs this year and that’s my main focus.

On being a late bloomer out of the Western League:

“I wasn’t really that that good back then. I was a late Western League pick. We didn’t have a very good team in Saskatoon. I wasn’t very good then. It was just a blessing in disguise because those years made me improve enough that I could have a chance to make the NHL. There were guys a lot better than me.”

On his work ethic:

“That’s what I was raised on. That’s really, I think, the only reason I’m here today. That’s been my strength. I like to work, it’s not a ‘have-to-do’ thing. I enjoy going out on the ice and seeing how many shots I can stop. It’s taken me here, so it’s been pretty fun.”

On the Capitals leading the NHL in goals per game at the All-Star break:

“There’s a lot of depth. Three and four lines can put the puck in the net. You know, the thing that separates our team from teams in the past is basically Evgeny Kuznetsov. We all knew what Nick could do and there’s a ton of weight on his shoulders at all times because of how he plays in all three zones and how talented he is. And Kuzy has come into his own as a No. 1 center. So we have two No. 1 centers with great support on the wings. Obviously, Ovi on the wall is a pretty good asset to have, but the center position makes the whole team click. They’re first back in the D zone, they’re on the forecheck, they do everything. They have to skate a ton and to have two guys that are absolutely world class creates a lot of offense.”

On Barry Trotz emphasizing defense without sacrificing offense:

“From Day One, he made sure we knew the best defense is to have the puck and be on the offense. It’s hard for the other team to score when you have the puck. That’s what he’s preached from Day One and I think guys have bought into it. You look at our defense corps, the way they move the puck. They can skate and they get the puck to our forwards and it’s in their end, and that’s pretty good defense for us.”

[RELATED: Caps All-Stars help lead East to win in Skills Challenge]


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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.