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Trotz: Backstrom should be All-Star, Selke winner

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Trotz: Backstrom should be All-Star, Selke winner

If Barry Trotz looked a little taller than normal behind the podium at the Caps’ practice rink on Monday, it’s because he was up on a soap box extolling the virtues of Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who on Tuesday night is scheduled to play in his 600th NHL game when the Red Wings visit Verizon Center.

Why?

“Because no one talks about him,” Trotz said, acknowledging Backstrom as one of the most underrated players in the NHL. “A point-a-game guy in this league is pretty incredible.”

In 599 NHL games Backstrom has 154 goals and 440 assists for 594 points, including nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points in 22 games this season. And yet he’s never played in an NHL All-Star Game. This year’s midseason showcase will be in Nashville on Jan. 30.

“He should be in one very shortly – like Nashville would be a good place for him to start,” Trotz said. “He doesn’t get enough recognition on how good he is. I knew he was good, I just didn’t realize how good he was until I saw him a daily basis.”

Asked if playing in the shadow of Alex Ovechkin has kept Backstrom out of the public limelight, Trotz said the quiet way Backstrom plays might also play a factor.

“Personality wise, Alex has the gift of catching your eye,” Trotz said. “He’s a loud player. The big shot. Walking through people with some of his moves. The big hits. And there’s this quiet guy that plays with him that gets him the puck. He does all the little cool stuff.

“To me he’s a terrific player that doesn’t get enough recognition. He should be a Selke winner (as the NHL’s top two-way forward) one of these years but no one even mentions him, and he should play in an All-Star Game starting this year.

“I believe that. I know if 29 other coaches were standing where I’m standing they’d be saying the same thing.”

Other milestones: Caps right wing Justin Williams is one point shy of 600 in his NHL career. He has 599 points in 943 games. Braden Holtby is scheduled to play in his 200th NHL games, while defenseman Matt Niskanen is set to play in Game No. 599.  Meanwhile, Trotz is one win away from passing Bryan Murray (620) and moving into 10th place in all-time coaching victories.

MORE: Orpik leaves Caps practice; will be re-evaluated

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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