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Prospect report: Searching for offense


Prospect report: Searching for offense

Hershey playoff update: Bears vs. Hartford Wolf Pack in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, series tied 2-2

Playoff schedule:
Game 5 - Wed. May 13 at Hershey 7:00 p.m.
Game 6 - Fri. May 15 at Hershey 7:00 p.m.
Game 7 - Sun. May 17 at Hershey 5:00 p.m.

After four games, the Hershey Bears find themselves deadlocked with the Hartford Wolf Pack at two games apiece.

The Bears have been without Stanislav Galiev the entire series as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury suffered in the first round against Worcester. He has returned to practice, but in a non-contact jersey and there is no word yet on when he may be ready to return to the lineup.

Hershey's offense took another blow prior to Game 4 as the team's leading scorer in the playoffs, Nate Schmidt, was recalled by the Washington Capitals on Monday as a precaution for Tim Gleason. Based on the practice pairings on Tuesday it seems as if Gleason will be ready for Game 7, but Schmidt traveled with the team to New York and remains unavailable to the Bears.

Schmidt currently leads Hershey in points this postseason with three goals and five assists.

In other AHL news, the league is going to look very different next season as the league announced formalized its division realignment to include the Pacific Division. Starting with the 2015-16 season, the AHL will feature two conferences with two divisions each. Like the NHL, two divisions will feature eight teams while the other two will feature seven. Hershey will be in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. The new playoff format and schedule will not be finalized until the summer.

You can see the new division alignments here.

Other prospect notes:

The South Carolina Stingrays have advanced to the ECHL Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the Florida Everblades in six games. Caps prospect Caleb Herbert had four assists in the series and is now tied for third on the team in the playoffs with eight total.

Madison Bowey is only one win away from adding a ring to his gold medal this year, as the Kelowna Rockets took a commanding 3-0 series lead against the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL Championship Series. Bowey currently has two assists in the series.

RELATED: Capitals aren't surprised Rangers forced Game 7

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

USA Today Sports

Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

Braden Holtby has made Barry Trotz’s weekend very difficult, but in a good way.

Back-to-back games against the New York Islanders offered the Capitals an opportunity to play both Philipp Grubauer and Holtby. Grubauer stayed hot earning another win for Washington. On Friday, Holtby got his first start since March 6 and played very well.

“A win is good,” Holtby said after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable. Some things to build off of and things that I want to get better at. It was a step in the right direction.”


A 22 save effort on Friday was bookended by two big saves. The first shot Holtby faced was a turnover on the power play that led to a dangerous shorthanded scoring opportunity for John Tavares early in the first period. Then in the third, with the Capitals leading 5-3 and the Islanders trying to mount a comeback, Holtby turned aside a breakaway opportunity for star rookie Mathew Barzal.

“I thought he was pretty solid,” Trotz said. “He looked really confident.”

“I felt a lot better,” Holtby said. “Not that I was feeling horrible before, it's just you get refreshed. It's like anything, you have a week off work, a holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed.”

And that brings us to Sunday.

On Sunday, the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are a team in playoff position in desperate need of points after seven of their last eight games.

When asked on Wednesday who he thought would start Sunday’s game, Trotz said, “We're in a result business and we need some results so we'll see who is looking the sharpest and gives us the best chance to win.”

Both Grubauer and Holtby were impressive in their starts over the Islanders. You can’t argue Holtby is suddenly the hotter hand after one win considering how well Grubauer has played of late, but if Holtby remaisn the team’s No. 1, shouldn’t he get the next start after a strong winning performance?


Trotz was asked after the game who would start on Sunday after Holtby’s win.

“They're both playing well so I can't even answer that right now to be honest with you,” he said. “I do know that we have a number of games this week and whatever way go, obviously I'm going to sit down with the coaches and whatever way we go, I think they're both going to get some time this week.”

“I think you have to take it game-by-game,” Trotz added. “Bottom line is that you've got to make a decision and go with it and if your decision is that goalie A is a little hotter or you've just got a gut feel then you go with it and you have to live with it good or bad.”

So for now, it sounds as if we will see a rotation in net as Trotz continues evaluating which netminder gives the team the best chance to win in the playoffs. It is a tough position for the Caps’ bench boss, but, if both goalies continue to perform, having to choose between a hot Grubauer and a resurgent Holtby is a good problem to have and much preferable to having to choose between backup Grubauer and slumping Holtby.

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Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

The Capitals may have won the game Friday against the New York Islanders, but now they will wait to see if they also suffered a significant loss.

Kuznetsov left the game in the third period after taking a slash from Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey which sent him sliding head-first into the boards. The team labeled the issue as “upper body” when it was announced he would not return to the game.

Head coach Barry Trotz was tight-lipped afterward on Kuznetsov’s status.

“They're going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and we'll have some clarity hopefully tomorrow,” he said.


You can see the play here:

When Kuznetsov is first slashed he immediately reacts. His feet then catch the stick of goalie Jaroslav Halak which sends him tripping and sliding hard into the boards. He sat on the ice for several minutes afterward and was looked at by the trainer before getting to his feet and slowly making his way to the locker room.

When asked after the game what he felt about the slash, Trotz said only, “Hockey play.”

One of the Capitals’ biggest strengths as a team is their depth down the middle. Any injury to a center, considering it is arguably the most important skating position on the ice, would be significant. An injury to the team’s top-line center would be even more costly.

Kuznetsov leads the team with 28 assists and ranks second in both goals (21) and points (69).