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Trotz discusses Vrana's demotion, the possibility of adding a 13th forward

Trotz discusses Vrana's demotion, the possibility of adding a 13th forward

Although the Capitals were encouraged by Jakub Vrana’s 12-game stint in Washington, the rookie’s lack of playing time recently coupled with the team’s upcoming schedule and salary cap situation made the decision to send him down Sunday a relatively straightforward one. 

“Real easy,” Trotz said. “We have a day off tomorrow. He’s not in the lineup [vs. the Senators]. We’re a capped [out] team. He’s going to Hershey, plain and simple. We have the numbers right now.” 

Vrana posted a goal and two assists in his first taste of NHL experience. But then he went cold, recording no points in five consecutive games before being a healthy scratch for both Devils games. He was informed of his demotion prior to Sunday’s morning skate in Arlington.

RELATED: Caps demote prospect Vrana on Sunday

Trotz said he had originally planned to play Vrana against the Senators but changed his mind because he wanted to keep together the Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-Andre Burakovsky line. That trio accounted for the first goal in Saturday’s 6-2 win over the Devils.

The Capitals are currently carrying only 12 forwards—the minimum for four full lines.

Trotz said there are no immediate plans to recall a 13th forward and that the decision will be made on a day-to-day basis. The fact that the Caps are home this week and Hershey is just a two-hour drive away makes it even easier to keep the minimum and bank cap space.

“It’s really convenient,” he said. “It’s a real good situation we have there.”

If the team does decide to bring up an extra forward, Trotz said the choice will hinge on the type of player he feels is needed.  

“If we are going to bring an extra forward it may be someone in a different role,” he said. “Or it could a less expensive player just to have [an extra body], that’s played very well down there. That’s the reality of the new NHL.”

Although it’s unclear when Vrana will be back, Trotz said the 20-year-old winger left a good first impression.

“Talked to Jakub this morning,” Trotz said. “Real positive. I know his mother is heading home [to the Czech Republic] tomorrow, so the timing that way worked out just fine. [He brings] speed, confidence with the puck, offensive flair. Real good poise. …I think he showed very well. We’re quite encouraged that he’ll be able to help us.”

MORE CAPITALS: 3 bold predictions: Caps look to pressure Condon

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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