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Trotz has an 'honest' talk with struggling Orlov

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Trotz has an 'honest' talk with struggling Orlov

Unlike some of the coaches that came before him, Barry Trotz likes to talk things out with struggling players and on Tuesday he had a heart-to-heart conversation with defenseman Dmitry Orlov, whose turnovers have resulted in goals against in each of his last two games.

“We talk about being honest all the time,” Trotz said. “Sometimes the best way to get a guy’s attention is to have them not play because sometimes it falls on deaf ears a little bit. That works for some players. Some players you have to let them know (poor decisions) have to be gone or there will consequences down the road and they fix it on their own.”

Trotz would not say whether Orlov will remain in the lineup when the Capitals visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (8 p.m., NBCSN) or be replaced by veteran defenseman Mike Weber or Taylor Chorney.  Orlov practiced on Tuesday with normal defense partner Brooks Orpik, an indication he may remain in the lineup.

“I don’t think I’m obligated to do that, plus I don’t want to give Philly a heads up,” Trotz said.

“I think we had a good conversation today. I think he understands where I was coming from and where he fits on our hockey team and what his future is with our hockey team. All those things were talked about today.”

From a statistical standpoint, Orlov is having his best season in the NHL. The 24-year-old Russian has a career-high eight goals and 20 assists and has played in all 75 games. But it’s the defwnsive zone giveaways that have become an issue with Trotz and Orlov knows it.

“The last couple games I made mistakes that cost us goals,” Orlov said. “I know I can do a better job of that. For sure they told me I can’t do this. We talked a little bit about that. Everybody say the same thing. Especially before playoffs, I understand if I’m going to play I can’t do this. I will try to do the right things and maybe do the simple play sometimes.”

In hindsight, Orlov said he should have backhanded the puck off the glass instead of looking for a pass through the middle of the ice in a play that resulted in Cam Atkinson’s goal late in the first period of the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets on Monday night.

Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen wasn’t nearly as critical of Orlov’s decision on the play, saying he hads few options as a left-handed player playing on the right side of the ice.

“Orly’s been a tremendous player for us this year and he has the guts to make some plays where some other guys wouldn’t and he’s really good at it,” Niskanen said. “I don’t think you should shy away from making a play.

“Playing on the offside sometimes  you’re forced on the backhand to make a play in a tough spot and things happen. The guy knocked the puck out of the air and if I was Orly I wouldn’t even sweat that one. I understand why the coach is upset on limiting your turnovers, but sometimes you don’t have a choice but to make a play on your backhand.”

With Weber and Chorney waiting in the wings, Orlov said he’s not sure whether he’ll be in the lineup in Philadelphia but hopes he is.

“We’ll see, it’s hard to say,” Orlov said. “Of course  I’m mad at myself. I made this mistake and I’m always hard on myself. We’ll see (Wednesday). If I will play I will try to do my best.”

MORE CAPITALS: Islanders forward says he would 'hate' to be the Caps right now

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.

Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.