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Trotz advocates mental health days for Caps

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Trotz advocates mental health days for Caps

News, notes and quotes as the Capitals enjoy a Sunday off following their annual Casino Night at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel in Arlington:

In his 18 years behind an NHL bench, Barry Trotz has learned when to push his players and when to pull back. And over the course of an 82-game season, he believes pulling back can be just as impactful as pushing.

Several times this season Trotz has canceled practices on mornings following games, including Saturday’s cancellation following Friday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Red Wings. He followed with a scheduled day off on Sunday before asking his players to return to Kettler for two full practice days on Monday and Tuesday.

“You might put more (physical) effort into a 45-minute practice than you do in a game,” Trotz said. “But emotionally your battle level and your focus level should be higher in a game.

“You get an adrenaline rush and then an adrenaline crash. You might get banged up because some games are more physical than others.  During the season you get more tired mentally, so we work on making them stronger mentally.”

Throughout the season Trotz introduces his players to Special Ops leaders, motivational speakers and performance coaches, all designed to prepare them for the grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs.     

Hitting their marks: The Capitals’ coaching staff has redefined some of the team goals that were set last season, hoping to tighten up their defensive play while increasing puck possession.

Through 16 games, the Caps lead the NHL in shots against per game (25.2), rank sixth in goals per game (3.06) and power-play percentage (22.4 percent), rank tied for sixth in goals against per game (2.31) and shots per game (31.1) and seventh in penalty kill percentage (84.8 percent).

The Caps have held opponents to 30 or fewer shots in 14 consecutive games, marking the longest streak since the 1999-2000 season (also 14 games). The franchise record for most consecutive games holding an opponent to fewer than 30 shots is 20 games, set during the 1984-85 season.

As a result, the Caps’ 11-4-1 record after 16 games is their third-best start in franchise history. The Caps opened the 1991-92 season with a 12-4-0 record and had the same record through 165 games in 2010-11.

MORE CAPITALS: 'I THINK HE WANTS TO GET IT OVER WITH'

Waiting on Andre: Through 16 games, second-year right wing Andre Burakovsky has just two goals on 2q2 shots, putting him on pace for just 10 goals and 113 shots this season.

In 53 games last season Burakovsky, 20, recorded nine goals on 65 shots.

“You have to be patient with all young players,” Trotz said, “as long as they’re willing to learn. Where you lose your patience is when they’re making the same mistakes over and over again.

“For me, Andre is eager to learn. He’s going to score. He’s a gifted player. I think he’s lost a little bit of confidence or trust in his own skill set. I tell him, ‘Trust your shot. Shoot it from the top of the circles where you’re comfortable from instead of working down to the hash marks.

“Just because a goaltender makes a good save doesn’t mean he’s going to control the rebound. He can get to the middle of the ice and let that shot go. I think the game in Philadelphia (season-high three shots, no points) might have been his best game in 10 games. He was working both ends of the ice.

“It’ll come. I think young guys put a lot more value on their ability to produce. They focus on production but there are 100 different things you can do to help a team win.”

Start your lobbying: Player selection for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey is still months away, but St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong says Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and his assistant coaches should be mindful of under-the-radar players who could help Team Canada.

Babcock’s assistants include Claude Julien (Boston Bruins), Joel Quenneville (Chicago Blackhawks), Bill Peters (Carolina Hurricanes) and Trotz.

"They have not been involved," said Armstrong, who is Team Canada’s general manager. "But we are going to, at some point in the near future, share our list of watch players. Basically, we want them to see who we're watching, but we also want them to add any names that we might not have had.

“Obviously, the further you get away from the play, I think the more emotion that's gone from it from a man perspective. These guys are on the bench, they know these players as well as anyone, so if they want to add a name to the list, then we certainly want to listen to those guys."

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

RELATED: TRADE DEADLINE STORY TIME WITH ALAN MAY

Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

MORE CAPITALS: IS IT TIME FOR GRUBAUER TO START IN PLACE OF HOLTBY?

For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Brett Connolly - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Chandler Stephenson - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Devante Smith-Pelly - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Michal Kempny

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.