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Trotz to Boulton: Wilson 'not scared of anybody'


Trotz to Boulton: Wilson 'not scared of anybody'

Capitals coach Barry Trotz has a little message for New York Islanders enforcer Eric Boulton, who may or may not be in the lineup Sunday when the Isles visit Verizon Center for the Caps’ preseason finale:

Tom Wilson isn’t afraid of you. He was just following coach’s orders.

On Monday night, Boulton, a 39-year-old, 6-foot, 225-pound veteran of 648 NHL games and 142 NHL fights, desperately tried to get Wilson to drop the mitts.

Wilson, a 6-foot-4, 207-pound veteran of 149 NHL games and 26 NHL fights, repeatedly refused, prompting Boulton to say after the game, “He kept turning me down. He wasn’t interested. He was scared to death.”

Actually, Wilson was more afraid to disobey his coach.

“I told (Wilson) before the game there’s only one reason the Islander player is in the lineup and I don’t want him to fight him. I said I need for you to play. I also told him if (Boulton) is on the ice with you, you’ve got to be involved. You don’t want to get jumped. If he’s coming at you and you can’t get out of it you’ve got to go at it.

“But I told him to back off and play. He’s not scared of anybody or anything. I just need him to play.”

Wilson’s restraint after drawing a charging penalty on Boulton in the third period led to a power-play goal by Andre Burakovsky, on which he assisted, and it proved to be the game-winning goal. Trotz said he wants more of that from Wilson, who last season finished sixth in the NHL with 12 fights, two fewer than his rookie season.

“There’s probably a little target there,” Trotz said. “He’s a hard guy to play against and I’m not going to take that out of him. I just need him to play a little more. He might play 20 minutes and that’s two games (of ice time) for him last year.”

 Trotz said Wilson will see time on the penalty kill, where his long reach should be disruptive in the same way Eric Fehr’s long reach was effective last season. Eventually, Trotz said he’d also like to integrate Wilson into the Caps’ power play rotation as a net-front presence or “diamond” shooter from the slot.

“We’re trying to grow his game, but trust me, I want him to be hard and nasty,” Trotz said. “I don’t think that’s going to change. But we’re going to help him become a better player, too.”

RELATED: Are Backstrom, Orpik nearing return to Caps?

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Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?


Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.