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Trotz sees model for Carlson in Lightning's Victor Hedman


Trotz sees model for Carlson in Lightning's Victor Hedman

With the Tampa Bay Lightning in town for a Friday evening matchup [5 p.m. on CSN], the Capitals will face off with one of the best teams in the NHL at keeping their opponents off the scoreboard. Goalie Ben Bishop is playing at an All-Star level and having former second overall pick Victor Hedman ahead of him on the blue line surely hasn't hurt.

Hedman has carried over a record-setting playoff run to this season where he has blossomed into one of the best defensemen in the NHL. 

"He looks like a player that crosses that threshold now as an elite defenseman in this league," Caps coach Barry Trotz said. 

"[No one is] big and that fast. He's grown into being an elite defenseman who has a great skillet. I think the skills were always there. Obviously, he wouldn't have been drafted where he was. It was a pretty good class. I think as players mature, he's matured into a real top-end player and probably has accepted the role of being that top guy and doesn't shy away from it. He actually probably relishes it."

He wasn't the No. 2 pick, but the Capitals have their own blue chip defenseman in John Carlson. The 25-year-old enjoyed a breakout season offensively in 2014-15 with 55 points (12 goals, 43 assists) in 82 games, but Trotz thinks he still has room to grow. In fact, he thinks Carlson has another leap within him, one that could perhaps mirror the one Hedman has already made.

"I think we're trying to get John into that role. I think he's closer now than he was at the start of last year," Trotz said. "I think everybody gets to their potential if they want to at different times. That's just human nature where players in situations dictate how fast and how determined you are to get [there] when you can be the best that you can be."

Carlson is still getting accustomed to his partner on the Caps blue line, Nate Schmidt. Trotz has seen growth in the two's relationship on the ice.

"I think it first comes with knowing each other as players. Instinctively, they both are good skaters and want to join the rush at times. I think just understanding when Nate was going to go and when Carly was going to go, just getting a comfort level between the two. I think on the breakouts you see a lot more detail in the execution with positioning and also in terms of some deception, so that you're not easy to forecheck. That's improved in the last week or so here. All those things are set, it's just getting a comfort level with your partner," he said.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars


3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history


Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Alex Ovechkin further cemented his place in NHL history, John Carlson stayed hot and Braden Holtby was good when called upon as the Caps down the Stars, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

The victory was Washington’s fifth in the past six games. It also marked the Caps’ first win over Dallas in D.C. since 2006.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovi scored his 44th goal of the season and the 602nd of his career in the second period to give the Caps a short-lived 3-2 edge in the second period. The goal put Ovi back atop the league as he seeks a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. It also pushed him past Jari Karri and into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Ovechkin has now victimized Kari Lehtonen 22 times, which is tied for the most goals he’s scored against a single netminder. (Henrik Lundqvist has also given up 22 goals to No. 8). Ovi also had a couple of secondary helpers.

2-John Carlson, Capitals

Carlson scored the game-winner 4:59 with left to play, blasting a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Caps ahead 4-3. Carlson also notched an assist, which allowed him to stay even with Dallas’ John Klingberg. Klingberg also had a goal and an assist. Both players ended the game with 61 points—tied for the most among all NHL defensemen.    

3-Alexander Radulov, Stars

From his first shift, it was apparent that Radulov was determined to leave his mark on the game. And he did just that, recording a goal, an assist and boarding minor that bloodied Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Radulov’s goal—a redirection of a John Klingberg shot—was his 26th and it evened the score, 2-2, in the second period.

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