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Oshie, Chorney prepare to face their old coach

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Oshie, Chorney prepare to face their old coach

Back in May, when the Philadelphia Flyers made Dave Hakstol the first NHL coach since Bob Johnson to go directly from a college to the NHL, many wondered if general manager Ron Hextall had made a gamble that would never pay off.

Not Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie and defenseman Taylor Chorney.

Both played under Hakstol at the University of North Dakota and with Brooks Orpik questionable for Thursday night’s game with a lower-body injury, both could be in the lineup when the Capitals visit the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN).

“He really, really cares about his players, first and foremost,” said Oshie, who played under Hakstol from 2005-07 and recorded 41 goals and 97 points in two seasons with the Fighting Sioux.

“He’s disciplined but fair. If you’re not sticking to the plan he’s gonna let you know and practice you hard. He knows how good guys can play and if you’re not playing your best he demands more out of you.

“On the other hand, when you play well and do what he asks and you stick to the game plan, he’s fired up and he comes in screaming and excited. He’s a fun coach to play for.”

RELATED: Capitals Rewind: Caps offense gets iced in Detroit

Lately, hockey has been anything but fun in Philadelphia. After an impressive 4-2-2 start to the season, the Flyers have lost six of their last seven games, including a 4-0 setback to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night in which the players were booed off their home ice.

Losing is something to which Hakstol is unaccustomed. In 11 seasons at North Dakota his teams went 289-143-43 and reached the NCAA tournament in each season, advancing to the Frozen Four seven times.

“He’s a very, very fair coach,” said Chorney, who played under Hakstol from 2005-08 and invited his former coach to his wedding. “He expects a lot from his players but at the same time if you’re willing to pay the price and compete hard and do all those old-school things, I think you’re going to like to play for a guy like him.

“I loved playing for him and I know Osh loved playing for him.”

Chorney, whose father, Marc, and Hakstol have been friends for years, said he thinks Hakstol will be able to help restore the Flyers’ reputation as a winning franchise if given the time.

“He’s definitely going to bring a change in culture there,” Chorney said. “I don’t know what it was like before (under Craig Berube) but I think he’s going to raise the expectations and expect a lot from his players and I think guys will respect him for it.”

In what seems like an annual tradition in Philadelphia, Hakstol has been handed a goaltending dilemma involving Steve Mason and former Caps netminder Michal Neuvirth, who was acquired as Mason’s backup over the summer after brief stops in Buffalo and Long Island.

In eight starts, Neuvirth is 3-3-1 with a 2.08 goals-against average, .939 save percentage and a league-best three shutouts, but allowed a bad-angle goal to Jarome Iginla Tuesday night. In seven starts Mason is 2-4-2 with a 3.34 GAA and .902 save percentage.

Chorney said he thinks the Flyers have the players in place to make Hakstol’s first season a successful one.

“They have really good players, good goaltending and I think he can do really well,” Chorney said. “He’s going to expect a lot from the guys and they’ve got no choice. He’s the coach and you’ve got to answer the bell.”

MORE CAPITALS: Despite Ovechkin shooting gallery, Caps blanked

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Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

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The Hershey Bears

Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The contracts of Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann and Bears assistant coach Ryan Murphy will not be renewed for next season, the Capitals announced Wednesday. Hershey finished in last place in the Atlantic Division and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“Troy is a dedicated and hard-working coach and we appreciate all he has done for the Hershey Bears,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “At this point, we feel a fresh approach and a change in leadership is needed in order for us to continue to develop our young players towards the next level and for success at the AHL level. We also want to thank Ryan for his contributions to the Hershey Bears and wish him all the best.”

Just two seasons ago, the Bears under Mann were playing the Calder Cup Finals where they lost in four games to the Lake Erie Monsters. Mann served as an assistant coach for Hershey from 2009-2013 and was hired as the head coach in 2014. He led the Bears to a record of 162-102-22-18 during his tenure, good for sixth all-time among Hershey coaches in wins.

Mann coached several current Capitals players in Hershey including Travis Boyd, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Philipp Grubauer, among others. Hershey also currently boasts several of the Caps' biggest prospects such as Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Riley Barber and Jonas Siegenthaler.

Murphy was with the Bears for all four years of Mann's tenure. He started in video development in Mann's first season and was promoted to assistant coach the following year.

“We’d like to thank Troy Mann and Ryan Murphy for their contributions to the Hershey Bears organization,” said Hershey vice president of hockey operations, Bryan Helmer. “While we are looking to move our hockey club forward, today is certainly an emotional day. I had the pleasure of working with both Troy and Ryan behind the bench for two seasons, and consider them to be great people. We wish both all the best in future endeavors.”

Coaching in the AHL is a tough job as coaches are expected to bring the team success while also developing their NHL club's prospects. There are times when the two goals do not necessarily line up which can make it a difficult balance.

Considering how important it is to develop talent from within, AHL coaches are very significant parts of an organization. Getting the right guy in charge of Hershey won't just boost the AHL team, but will help the Caps down the line with developed players.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

We all knew this was coming, right?

The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the 11th time in franchise history. Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once in their previous 10 series. This season gives them the opportunity to get over the second round and Pittsburgh hump once and for all.

Will this year be different? Will the Caps finally take down their arch nemesis? Will they finally advance to the conference final?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps-Penguins matchup in the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page