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MacLellan, Trotz take different view on the team's history of postseason struggles

MacLellan, Trotz take different view on the team's history of postseason struggles

Barry Trotz has made it clear he does not think the Washington Capitals’ history of playoff failures affects the mentality of the team. On Tuesday, general manager Brian MacLellan made it clear that he disagrees with the head coach’s assessment.

"I think that plays a big part in the pressure on our team,” MacLellan told reporters. “Your history's your history. Whether you come in here last year or at the deadline, you're going to feel it. I can feel it up in the box that past pressure manifests itself in the present day. To ignore it I think is a mistake.”

RELATED: After down year, Caps want to see Ovechkin adjust

Trotz raised eyebrows in the wake of the team’s Game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins when he said the players had all gotten past the team’s postseason history, even going so far as to call it a “joke.”

“I think it's so overworked by [the media] and everybody else that it's actually becoming a joke to the guys,” Trotz said at breakdown day, “Which is probably good because playoffs haven't been fun here and maybe having some fun and laughing at the past a little bit and looking in the face is probably something that might ease us in the future. But it's become more of a bad question by media now because guys are sort of chuckling about it all the time now.”

MacLellan wasn’t laughing on Tuesday.

“I think you've got to acknowledge it and then you've got to work through it,” MacLellan said to reporters. “Just to say it doesn't matter – because it pops up – and if you're not acknowledging it, you're not going to be able to get through it because you're ignoring it. I would say all the past history matters to us, and then you can feel it in the building. You feel it in the crowd. It's in there. You tell me in that Game 7 that you couldn't feel it.”

MacLellan even went so far as to say the history was no longer Washington’s history, but now after three years of disappointing postseason results, both he and Trotz were a part of that history.

“We lost a Game 7, we lost a Game 6 last year, I think we’re part of it as an organization,” he told Jill Sorenson in a one-on-one interview. “I think three years ago we started as a fresh group and the history’s your history. Now we’re involved in it. I think it’s important for us to acknowledge it, it’s important for us to work through it. I think once we bring it to our awareness as the players do and the coaches do, we’ll have a better chance of moving through it.”

The question now is how does the team move through it? Well, that can be a problem if the coach and general manager do not see eye to eye on the issue.

MacLellan said he has spoken to Trotz about their different outlooks regarding the team’s history saying, “He philosophically disagrees. We just have a different way of looking at it.”

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz, staff will return next season

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Nicklas Backstrom is trying really hard not to get frustrated with lack of goals


Nicklas Backstrom is trying really hard not to get frustrated with lack of goals

Nicklas Backstrom has made a career out of setting up other players, but what many forget is that he is a pretty darn good scorer in his own right. Just not these days.

Backstrom had three goals in the first six games of the season, but since then he has been held scoreless. His last goal game on Oct. 14 against the Philadelphia Flyers.


Offense, in general, has been hard to come by for the veteran center who also underwent a career-long seven-game pointless streak.

While Backstrom has managed to get back on the score sheet with three assists in his last five games, he still can’t seem to get a goal.

“Obviously you want to score,” Backstrom said. “That's a no brainer, but at the same time you've just got to stick with it. I mean, at least I created chances tonight.”

While the goals may not be there, however, the chances are. For Barry Trotz, that’s an encouraging sign.

“Backy was on the bench, I gave him a little tap I said you know the hockey gods will even that out,” Trotz said. “You probably could have had three tonight and he'll probably get one of those leaky lizards go through the legs or through the arms and one from a bad angle. They'll even it out for him.”


With Backstrom taking on a more defensive shutdown role this season, his offensive numbers have taken a hit. The Capitals, however, do not have the same scoring depth as in recent years and need Backstrom, still arguably their best center, to produce offensively in order to be successful. He is just too good of a player to not produce.

But given his recent play, Trotz is not all that concerned and believes the goals are coming. Backstrom seems to agree.

“The sun goes up the next day anyway even if I don't score,” he said, “So you've just got to stick with it, work hard and hopefully you'll get rewarded.”

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Alex Ovechkin gets stitches to the lip after getting hit by puck, but he remains indestructible


Alex Ovechkin gets stitches to the lip after getting hit by puck, but he remains indestructible

It's always scary when you see a player get hit in the head with a puck. It's even scarier when you're a fan of the Caps and that player is Alex Ovechkin.

But there's is one thing you should always remember before you worry about the Great 8: He is not built like a normal human being.

Ovechkin was struck in the face by a puck in the second period of Saturday's game against the Minnesota Wild. It was a scary moment made scarier by the pool of blood he left behind on the ice as he made his way to the locker room.


"Anybody who takes a puck to the face, you hope that they're not hurt badly," Barry Trotz said after the game. "Anytime you get hit to the face there's usually pretty good leakage. I saw, I knew he got hit in the face and in the mouth area and there was pretty good leakage around our bench and he went off and we were just hoping that it's not too serious."

Remarkably, it wasn't serious. Ovechkin missed the remainder of the second period, but returned for the third. After the game, there were a few stitches in his lip, but otherwise there appeared to be no serious damage.

Ovechkin said that after he had been hit he "Just tried to feel my tooth and it was fine. Just moving a little bit, but it's fine. It's hockey."

The fact that no serious damage was done turned what was a scary moment into one both players and coach could laugh at afterward.


"He's a big strong man and he's got a few zippers so he's a lot better looking now that they fixed him up and all that," Trotz said. "It's when you get stitched up, that's the great thing about medicine, they can make you look great."

"It can be much worser," Ovechkin said when asked if he was scared in the moment. "I could lose my teeth."

Nicklas Backstrom had the same thought many of you are probably asking yourself right now: "Does he have any more teeth?"

It was just another reminder that Ovechkin is truly a machine. You know what they say, "Russian Machine...never gets broken."

I think that's how the saying goes.