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Latta looks to make his mark as Trotz shuffles fourth line

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Latta looks to make his mark as Trotz shuffles fourth line

After a crushing loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday, you may have been expecting big changes to the lineup. Instead, the only change at Thursday's morning skate came on the fourth line where Michael Latta was at center.

Head coach Barry Trotz said after the skate the change was based on the team's opponent Thursday, the Boston Bruins.

"Playing a little heavier team I think tonight," Trotz said.

"Big bad Boston Bruins, right?" Latta said.

The last time the Caps and Bruins met was on Oct. 2 in a preseason matchup that saw eight fighting majors doled out, four to each team. Granted, more fighting is expected in the preseason, but it highlights the physical nature the Caps are expecting to see from Boston.

Though Trotz stressed Chandler Stephenson has played well, it's no surprise to see the more physical Latta centering the fourth for Thursday's game.

"I think where he can be really useful is he brings an element, that sort of 'get under your skin,'" Trotz said.

RELATED: Prospect Report: Production from the blue line

Latta has struggled to stay in the lineup this season or even stay on the ice. He has played in only three of the team's 11 games and saw less than four minutes of ice time in his last appearance.

"You can only do so much as you're given," Latta said. "I thought I played well so that's a tiny, tiny positive for me."

Despite the lack of ice time, Trotz told reporters he is trying to make Latta a "utility" player so that he can stay in the lineup.

"If he can play multiple positions that's really easy to have in your lineup and then that probably helps you stay in the lineup too knowing that you don't have to take people out because someone could slide into center or to wing."

"All you can do is build trust one minute at a time, every shift at a time," Latta said, "So that's when you got to just bear down and not give him an excuse to take you out."

Lines at morning skate:

Ovechkin - Kuznetsov - Oshie

Johansson - Backstrom - Williams

Chimera - Beagle - Burakovsky

Laich - Latta - Wilson

Orpik - Carlson

Alzner - Niskanen

Orlov - Schmidt

Braden Holtby was first off the ice.

Extras: Taylor Chorney, Stanislav Galiev, Chris Brown and Chandler Stephenson

MORE CAPITALS: Report: Team Canada to name Trotz to coaching staff

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

Four years ago, Capitals forward T.J. Oshie was the shootout king in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. This time around Gigi Marvin was one of the Americans who provided the extra-time heroics for Team USA at Pyeongchang, carrying the women’s hockey team to the gold medal.

Ironically enough, they both were the King and Queen of their high school’s dance back in 2005.

Marvin and Oshie both went to Warroad High School in Minnesota. They graduated from the same class in 2005. Nearly every high school in the country would wish for just one Olympian, this one got two legends in one class.

Oshie famously took the puck six times for Team USA in a shootout to beat Russia back in 2014. Marvin scored the first tally of the shootout in the gold medal game against Canada. The United States would go on to win the match in seven rounds.

Oshie would go on to congratulate his fellow Warroad alum after the match.

Whoever cast the deciding votes, must have known that these two destined for glory. One could now call them the King and Queen of Olympic shootouts.

RELATED: USA WOMEN WIN GOLD OVER RIVAL CANADA

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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

It would have been understandable if Travis Boyd struggled this past week. Something more important was on his mind.

Boyd spent the week in the hospital with his daughter, Hayden, who had been experiencing pain in her throat. He spent the enitre week in the hospital, not leaving until Hershey's game against Laval.

Boyd turned this trial into something incredible as he scored four goals Friday in Hershey's 6-3 win.

Boyd spoke about the ordeal with Zach Fisch of the Bears Radio Network (transcription via RMNB).

“It actually started after the game last Sunday against Rochester," he said. "I went straight from the rink to Urgent Care and then from Urgent Care to the ER. Never left the hospital until Friday morning. We had a successful surgery on Thursday night. Basically just a bad infection in her throat that had to be surgically removed. They had to surgically go in and kind of remove the bacteria and drain out the fluids. Everything went well. She’s doing well.”

Following the game, Boyd dedicated his performance to Hayden.

A four-goal game at the AHL level would have been an incredible accomplishment on its own. The fact that it came during such a trying time for him makes this a truly inspirational story.

You can watch highlights of the game including all four of Boyd's goals here:

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S UPDATED CAPS’ PROSPECT RANKINGS HERE

Other prospect notes:

  • In the Bears' game Friday against Laval, Riley Barber dropped the gloves with Markus Eisenchmid.  Barber was given an extra minor and game misconduct for instigating the fight in the final five minutes of the game. That penalty carries with it an automatic one-game suspension which Barber served Saturday. Here's a look at the fight.

  • Liam O'Brien had a pair of two-goal games over the week, scoring twice against Laval Friday and then two more against Toronto on Monday. Of his four goals, three of them were empty netters.
  • As the Capitals prepare for their Stadium Series game in Annapolis on March 3, Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley—a native of Perth, Australia—made a plea to see Nathan Walker recalled for the game.  “I’ll have to put a quick shout out to the one Australian that’s playing for the Caps now, Nathan Walker. If you could just bring him up for this game, that’d be great. Because an Australian being in a hockey game is like a Jamaican bobsled team. It doesn’t happen very often.”

  • Brian Pinho was honored Friday in Providence College's Senior Night. He has served as captain of the team this season and as an assistant captain in his junior year. He spoke with The Cowl on what being a leader on the team means to him. "I think being a leader of this team is a great honor, but also a huge responsibility. I try to keep everything fun at the rink, while also bringing some intensity and competing hard every day.” You can read the full story here.
  • Goalie Adam Carlson, who was on loan to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, was reassigned to the Kansas City Mavericks also of the ECHL. He started two games for his new team and turned aside 42 of the 48 total shots he faced.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in his week's updated rankings.