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Round table: Will players be rested down the stretch?

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Round table: Will players be rested down the stretch?

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan sat down with a handful of media members at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Thursday and discussed a wide variety of topics surrounding the Capitals, who own the NHL’s best record (44-11-4) through 59 games with four days remaining before Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

In Part Four of our five-part transcription, MacLellan discusses the expectations he and others have on the Capitals leading into the playoffs, the difference Barry Trotz has had since coming to Washington and his thoughts on some of the Caps' prospects in Hershey:

On if he has begun contract talks with Jason Chimera:

No, we haven’t. 

On how heightened Stanley Cup expectations have affected the Capitals:  

Hopefully we have expectations internally, from ownership to management to coaches to players. I mean, I hear the players talk. They expect to be there at the end. And that’s the way it should be I think. 

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On the gratification of how much progress the Caps have made in the two years since he was hired (from a non-playoff team to a Presidents’ Trophy favorite):

Yeah, the changes have been huge, where we’ve come from. I mean, I think there’s a lot of things that went on, from ownership to personnel decisions to coaching that have created an environment that’s helped produce where we’re at. … I don’t think you give anybody total (credit). I mean, it’s a shared success through the whole organization. I think scouts have done a good job, ownership’s been good, Barry and the coaches, the assistant coaches have done a good (job), there’s a lot of things that went into a pretty quick turnaround, so I don’t think it’s one individual. I don’t think it’s just coaching. I don’t think it’s just management. I think it’s everything. 

On how the Caps’ top prospects are faring in Hershey:

They’re all progressing. (Jakub) Vrana’s doing well, (Riley) Barber and (Travis) Boyd have done really well, (Chandler) Stephenson we like, (Madison) Bowie’s coming. We’re excited to see (Jonas) Siegenthaler maybe here at the end (of the AHL season). There’s a lot of positives going on in Hershey. These guys are all getting better. Some of them might need another year, but the trend is up for all of them. 

On whether the Caps might take a look at any of their prospects with a late-season call-up:

I don’t think so, unless injuries or circumstance dictates it. But, you know, (Zach) Sill has come up and done a good job. We’d probably use him, and then we’ll see what (else). One of my goals here (before the trade deadline) is maybe we find a guy that can go up and down (between the NHL and AHL) at the end. 

On if there have been discussions about resting players leading into the playoffs:

We haven’t really discussed it. Hockey I think is a little different in that there’s a rhythm to the season. Like the snowstorm there, when we had too many days off, and then we had the All-Star break, too many days off, we got out of rhythm. And I still think we’re recovering from it. I think it’s dangerous to start taking time off for everybody, but if there’s minor injuries that normally guys would play with, I think that would change that, especially when we’re adding depth guys. I mean, we’re going to have eight defensemen; if there’s situations where he’s not 100 percent, well, you know, let’s use our depth here. That’s part of the idea of having eight defensemen down the stretch. We have a tough schedule where we’re playing a lot of games in (a limited) number of days. The more bodies and the less stress you can put on your top four (defensemen) the better. It would be more like that than we’re going to completely sit out for two days, because I think guys need a rhythm. They need to keep playing.    

 

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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