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Ovechkin, Caps weigh in on Pens coaching change


Ovechkin, Caps weigh in on Pens coaching change

PITTSBURGH - News, notes and quotes from the Capitals’ locker room as they prepare to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Consol Energy Center:

New sheriff in town: Tonight will be the Penguins’ first game under new coach Mike Sullivan, who replaced Mike Johnston on Saturday. The Pens are hoping a harsher voice will help snap them out of a 2-2-3 funk that has left them one point out of a playoff spot in the East.

“It’s not a good situation because the organization did not see success with the team,” said Ovechkin, who has been through four coaching changes in his 11 seasons in Washington. "A lot of times it’s not about coaches, it’s about players.”

The Capitals all agree they will need to be ready for a strong push from the Penguins, who rank 27th in the NHL in goals.

“Like anything new, you want to impress him and show him what you’re all about,” said Caps right wing Justin Williams. “We expect a big push. We’ve been very average the past handful of games and it’s time for us to throw a game together and what better game than tonight?”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz will go with the same lineup he used Saturday night in Tampa, when the Caps pulled out a 2-1 win over the Lightning on goals by Jay Beagle and Evgeny Kuznetsov, along with 35 stops by Braden Holtby.

“We know they’re going to come out hard with a new sheriff in town,” Trotz said. “I don’t think systematically much will change (with Sullivan behind the bench). Our game plan is to do what we need to do and do it efficiently.

“They’re going to come with a lot of will. Any time there is a (coaching) change, players always say it’s on them. You know they’re going to come out hard right off the bat.”


Last time we met: The Penguins have just one win (1-2-1) within the Metropolitan Division and it came against the Capitals back on Oct. 28 in a 3-1 win at Verizon Center.

“I remember it was a pretty intense game, pretty physical,” Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen said.

Sid vs. Beags: Caps center Jay Beagle will spend most of tonight trying to shut down either Evgeni Malkin, who leads the Pens with 13 goals and 13 assists, or Sidney Crosby, who has six goals and 13 assists.

“Malkin is obviously a big body,” Beagle said. “He uses it well. He likes to turn on you and get you sucked in and spin off you. Both are very dynamic.”

Beagle, who is third in the NHL in faceoff winning percentage at 58.9 percent, said Crosby has one of the most unusual faceoff techniques in the league.

“He stands back and he slaps the puck, almost like a shot,” Beagle said. “I mean, he can break your stick. It’s something you don’t see from too many players. A lot of guys take draws similar ways and he takes it one way and he’s good at it and it’s tough to beat.”

Crosby has won 53.5 percent of his draws this season.   

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

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