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Pair of Capitals named to Metropolitan team for All-Star game

Pair of Capitals named to Metropolitan team for All-Star game

Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby will be Los Angeles-bound later this month after being tapped Tuesday to represent the Metropolitan Division at the NHL All-Star game.

The game is January 29th at Staples Center, home of the Kings.

Ovechkin has been named to the game a franchise-record eight times, while Holtby, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, joins Olie Kolzig as the only Capitals’ netminders to be chosen twice.

Once again, the All-Star Game format will be a 3-on-3 tournament. Each of the divisional teams will square off in a 20-minute semifinal. The winners will then play for the championship.

Ovechkin has five goals and six assists in the five all-star games in which he’s played. (The Caps’ captain did not play in the 2011-12 game and missed last year’s game with an injury). Holtby, meantime, made eight saves on 10 shots in his first All-Star Game appearance.

RELATED: Prediction recap: Holtby stays hot in win over Montreal

A year ago, fans voted Ovechkin to serve as the Metro Division captain. That honor this year belongs to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who leads the league with 26 goals.

The all-star accolades arrive as Ovechkin and Holtby are hitting their stride for the Caps, who have won six in a row and are 13-2-3 in their last 18 games.

On Monday in Montreal, Ovechkin tied Canadiens’ legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard for 29th on the all-time goals list with No. 544. The 31-year-old also moved to within a point of 1,000 for his career. He’ll get the chance to reach that milestone Wednesday when Washington hosts Pittsburgh on national television. 

Whenever Ovechkin gets there, he’ll become the 84 player in NHL history to reach the plateau and the fourth Russian-born player to do so, joining Sergei Fedorov, Alexander Mogilny and Alexei Kovalev.

Holtby is tied for the league lead in shutouts (5). The 27-year-old also ranks second in goals against average (1.90) and third in save percentage (.931).

In addition, Greg Smith, Washington’s longtime athletic trainer has been selected as the Eastern Conference’s head trainer. Smith is in his 17th season with the Capitals.  

CSN is sending a crew to Los Angeles to cover Ovechkin, Holtby and the rest of the all-star festivities. So keep an eye out for our Caps-specific coverage later this month.

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin watch: One more to go

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Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

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USA Today Sports Images

Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

Lars Eller did not practice on Monday, and coach Barry Trotz shuffled his injury-depleted defense corps.

Here’s how everyone lined up:

Forwards

Burakovsky – Backstrom – Oshie

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Vrana

Connolly – Graovac – Wilson

Smith-Pelly – Beagle – Chiasson

Walker

Defense

Orpik – Bowey

Djoos – Carlson

Orlov – Chorney

Ness

Goalies

Holtby

Grubauer

RELATED: Caps destroyed by Flyers in lopsided road loss

Some notes, quotes and observations from KCI:

  • Trotz said Eller showed up sick and was sent home to recover and avoid spreading whatever he’s got. Trotz also isn’t sure whether the veteran center will be able to suit up against Toronto on Tuesday. “I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t answer that right now. We’ll see where his energy level is.”

 

  • The coaching staff shuffled the D-pairs with speedy Toronto coming to town. But Trotz also cautioned not to read too much into the tandems, since they’re likely to change throughout Tuesday’s game. Trotz even hinted that a final decision on which six D-men will suit up had not yet been made. “They’re going to be shuffled from now until we get people back,” Trotz said, referring to the injured Matt Niskanen, who is week-to-week with an upper body injury. “There are pairs for practice. There are pairs for parts of games. It’ll be a little bit situational.”

 

  • If defenseman Taylor Chorney does get back into the lineup, he knows that he needs to make a positive impression after sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch. “I’ve been through this quite a bit over the last couple of years, but at the same time you probably want to make a little bit of a statement,” he acknowledged. “So for me, if I do get the opportunity to play, it would be a big game.”  

 

  • Speaking of the Leafs, they’re off to a 4-1-0 start with Auston Matthews (5 goals, including two OT winners) leading the way. Overall, Toronto is averaging a league-leading 5.2 goals per game. As you might imagine, Trotz had a lot of praise for last season’s first round opponent in general and Matthews specifically. “If he was playing 20 years ago, we’d be saying he’s Mario Lemieux-like,” Trotz said. “He’s six-foot-[three]. He skates great. He’s got unbelievable hands. And a hockey I.Q. and he’s strong on the puck.”  

 

  • As Washington attempts to turn the page from Saturday’s 8-2 clunker in Philly, Trotz said one area he’d like to see shored up is the number of shots the Caps have been allowing. Through six games, they’re yielding 34.5 shots on goal per game (tied for ninth most). Last year, they allowed 27.8 (fourth best). “We’re not as structured defensively,” Trotz said. “We haven’t put as big an emphasis this year as we did last year. We’ve put a little more emphasis on trying to replace some of the goals that we lost. But right now we have to get a little more balance. …We have to get that back into balance; we practiced some of that today.”

 

  • As you may remember, Madison Bowey’s father, Will, jumped on the first flight out of British Columbia that he could find in the hopes of catching his son’s NHL debut Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center. As it turned out, though, he experienced a couple of travel delays and didn’t make it. Dad will, however, be in attendance Tuesday night.

 

MORE CAPS: Nicklas Backstrom shines among NHL's top stars

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Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom named one of NHL's 3 stars for standout week

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USA Today Sports Images

Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom named one of NHL's 3 stars for standout week

Nicklas Backstrom has been the Capitals’ best player so far this season, according to coach Barry Trotz. And he was recognized for his play on Monday when the NHL named him third star of the week.

No one had more points over the past week than the Caps’ star center, who racked up three goals and six assists in four games.

Trotz praised Backstrom for his point production — and his play on the other side of the puck.   

“He’s been really good,” Trotz said. “Nick has been all business. He’s playing very well. He’s been our best player, no question, with balance in his game. Nick’s balance in his game is really good—on my soap box again—and that’s what makes him one of the best two-way centermen in the National Hockey League. ”

RELATED: Andre Burakovsky's first NHL fight

Last season, Backstrom didn’t get his third goal until the 16th game (en route to a 23-goal campaign). In six games this season, the 29-year-old has three goals and eight helpers.

First star of the week was Winnipeg winger Nikolaj Ehlers (five goals, two assists), while Toronto center Auston Matthews (four goals, including two OT winners) received second star honors.

On Tuesday at Capital One Arena, it’ll be second star versus third star as Matthews and the Leafs take on on Backstrom’s Caps.

MORE CAPS: How the Caps flopped in Philly