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Trotz provides injury update on Alzner, Johansson


Trotz provides injury update on Alzner, Johansson

Karl Alzner’s iron man streak of 401 games is still alive.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz confirmed Tuesday that the 27-year-old defenseman will be in the lineup tonight against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30, NBCSN) after missing Monday’s practice with an upper-body injury.

Left wing Marcus Johansson, who sat out Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss in Winnipeg with a lower body injury, also is expected to play. He practiced Tuesday on a line with center Evgeny Kuznetsov and right wing Justin Williams.

“With Marcus I was just concerned he didn’t skate (on Monday) but he immediately said he was fine,” Trotz said.

Alzner has played in every Caps game since sitting out the 2009-10 regular season finale on April 11, 2000. Tonight will mark his 402nd straight game, two behind defenseman John Carlson, who has played in 403 consecutive games.

Trotz said those are impressive streaks for a pair of defensemen who play big minutes against some of the NHL’s top forwards.

“When you play that many minutes, something’s going to go wrong or someone’s going to chop you or you get hit with a puck blocking a shot, or just an illness,” Trotz said. “From that standpoint, it’s pretty impressive for this day and age because the game is played pretty fast, especially for a defenseman. They’re going back to retrieve pucks and they’re the ones who take a lot of the hits.”

Trotz said that with Brooks Orpik still ailing with a lower body injury, the Caps will keep defenseman Aaron Ness on the roster for at least a few more games.

Orpik will miss his 12th consecutive game tonight with a lower body injury and was not on the ice on Tuesday. It’s possible the team will keep Orpik off the ice for a while to see how his injury responds.

“We’re sort of re-evaluating everything we’ve done so far to see if the plan stays the same or they alter it a little bit,” Trotz said. “They altered it a little bit today based on him not skating, trying to see if they can get it to settle down.”

Dads in town: The Caps will make their annual dads’ trip this week, with players’ fathers and mentors attending tonight’s game, Wednesday’s practice at Kettler and the team’s visits to Sunrise, Fla. for Thursday night’s game against the Panthers and Tampa for Saturday night’s game against the Lightning.

Trotz said he likes to play each player on his roster during the dads trip, adding that goaltender Philipp Grubauer is scheduled to make  one of the starts against the Panthers or Lightning.    

Here is how the Capitals practiced Tuesday and their projected lineup for tonight:

Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams

Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich – Michael Latta – Andre Burakovsky

Extras: Stan Galiev, Chris Brown

Defense pairings

Nate Schmidt – John Carlson

Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov – Taylor Chorney

Extra: Aaron Ness


Braden Holtby (starter) – Philipp Grubauer

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz: Backstrom should be All-Star, Selke winner

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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Why the suggested tweak to the goalie interference rule makes sense to Barry Trotz


Why the suggested tweak to the goalie interference rule makes sense to Barry Trotz

Goalie interference has become one of the most controversial calls in hockey and that has led to the general managers calling for a tweak to the rules before the playoffs.

As the general managers wrapped up their meetings in Florida on Wednesday, they issued a recommendation to the league’s Board of Governors that the final decision for all coach’s challenges for goaltender interference come from the Situation Room in Toronto where a retired referee will be included in the process.

If approved, the change will be enacted for the start of the playoffs.

The issue with goalie interference is consistency. It is an inherently subjective call so on any given night, it is hard to know how the rule will be officiated. That is a problem considering these calls can take goals off the board. The hope is that by requiring that all calls be made by the Situation Room, it will bring more consistency.


The news was met by skepticism from Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer.

“I can't tell you right now at this point if that's going to change anything,” he said. “If they still communicate with the linesmen, I'm sure they do, but in the end it's a grey area and it's been a grey area for a bunch of years now.”

One issue with the change is that while the Situation Room will make the final call, it will not always have the same personnel for each game and the retired referee to be included will not always be the same individual. Saying the Situation Room will make the call sounds great, but if the calls are still being reviewed by different people every night, will that really lead to greater consistency?

Head coach Barry Trotz thinks so. He applauded the change Wednesday explaining that different factors can weigh on a referee when he is the one making the call.

“Some referees who are more established and more sure of themselves, they won't reverse their calls,” Trotz said. “They just almost say, that's the way I saw it and that's the way it is and live with it. Others get swayed by what they see or maybe the crowd or another coach or how the game is going. It's no different than the student marking their own papers. Let's have a non-emotional person who has no skin in the game and is not in an emotional environment to make those calls and I think you'll find it'll be more consistent.”


If the main issue of the goalie interference was the referees being made to judge their own calls, then yes, this new rule change will go a long way towards fixing the consistency problem.

But perhaps it is unreasonable to expect calls to ever be black and white on a play and a rule that never is.

“Every situation is different,” Grubauer said. “There's no situation that's the same. Did he get bumped in? Was it intentional? Was the goalie intentional making contact? All points they have to look at and it happens so fast. I hope it's going to get better and I hope they will get a foundation down for it.”