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Trotz 'loves' Ovechkin's bold prediction


Trotz 'loves' Ovechkin's bold prediction

Twenty-one years ago Mark Messier stood in front of cameras and microphones and guaranteed a New York Rangers victory in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.

The next night he recorded a hat trick to lead the Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Meadowlands, tying the series and setting up an historic Game 7 victory in Madison Square Garden.

That’s the context that will be drawn after Alex Ovechkin's bold prediction that the Capitals will win Game 7 in New York on Wednesday night after blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Rangers.

Following Sunday night’s 4-3 loss at Verizon Center, which evened the conference semifinals at three wins apiece, Ovechkin told reporters, “We’re gong to come back and win the series.”

As you might expect, Ovechkin’s prediction created a Mother’s Day firestorm, with the New York Daily News calling him “cocky” and Rangers fans calling him things their mothers’ probably wouldn’t approve.  

Capitals coach Barry Trotz? He said he “loved it.”

“I saw that and that’s what leaders do,” Trotz said Monday. “Leaders say this is what we need to do, this is what we’re going to do. I think I have a lot more respect for someone who will be bold enough to say, ‘I’m the leader of the hockey team. We’re going to go there and give our best game and go out and win a hockey game.’ I’d rather have that than a leader going, ‘Well, we’re going there to lose.’ I mean, come on.

“I love that. I love that a player has got the wherewithal to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go there and we’re going to go after them and we’re going to leave it out there. I have a lot of respect for players that say that. And anybody who doesn’t have respect for that I think is fooling themselves.

“Not one player that I know is going to say we’re going there to lose. I have a lot of respect for all the players who have said, ‘Hey, we’re going to Game 7 to win the hockey game because that’s the mindset you need to have. If you don’t have that you might as well pack your bags.”

But do the Capitals need to hear such bold talk from their 29-year-old captain, who has two goals and three assists in eight career Game 7s?

“I don’t know if we needed to hear it," Trotz said, "but here’s your captain who says, ‘Hey, we’re going there and let’s go there and do it.’ I have a lot of respect for that. I’d rather have that than no one say anything and cower and put their eyes down and not look you in the face, or cower from anything that might be considered bold or controversial. You want players to feel that way. I’m OK with it.”

Trotz said it is nothing new for Ovechkin to attract the spotlight with his comments, even if others perceive it as a negative one.

“Ovi’s OK with that,” Trotz said. “Ovi’s done that his whole career. I’ve just gotten to know him this year, but his whole career he’s said stuff. Every year he says stuff that is bold and he backs it up, usually.

“He’s been one of the best goal scorers in this decade. People say, ‘We can stop him. We can do this or we can do that.’ You can stop him for a bit, but every year I look up and he’s got 50-60 goals every year.”

Trotz was asked if this could be a defining moment in Ovechkin’s career. After all, his teams are 3-5 in Game 7s during his career and he’s never been to a conference final.

“I don’t know if one game can, but it helps the legacy,” Trotz said. “We always make things bigger than they really are. It’s like calling a home run shot. Everybody remembers it, but is that pure luck or is that skill? I don’t know. But we’ll write about it, we’ll talk about it. I’ll tell my kids, you’ll tell your kids and it’ll be bigger and bigger, like the fishing story when the fish was that long.”

Or, perhaps, like the Mark Messier guarantee of 1994, which is credited for the push the Rangers needed to win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.

“They backed it up,” Trotz said. “They won the game. That’s what leaders do. And they got it done. Mark’s such a great leader. He’s proven that for decades with the Oilers and the Rangers. He called the shot and he backed it up. It’s famous now. So who knows?” 

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Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Dallas Stars

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

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


The Capitals (41-24-7) take on the Stars (38-27-8) Tuesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Stars 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. Stars
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


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

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny - Jakub Jerabek

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Brooks Orpik (lower body injury)


The Capitals-Stars 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.


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.

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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.”