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3 stars of the game: Wilson not enough of a spark as Caps fall to Kings

3 stars of the game: Wilson not enough of a spark as Caps fall to Kings

The Capitals started off the California road trip with an ugly 4-0 loss in Anaheim. Washington put up more of a fight on Thursday in Los Angeles, but the result was the same in the end as the Caps fell 3-1 to the Kings.

Philipp Grubauer got the start in net and turned aside 26 of the 28 shots he faced, but he was bested by his counterpart, Jonathan Quick, who allowed only one goal to the Caps. Jakub Vrana provided the only offense for Washington on the night as he knocked in a puck out of midair to tie the game at 1 in the second period. Trevor Lewis, however, responded with a similar midair tally to restore Los Angeles' lead for good.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jeff Carter: A lower-body injury forced Carter to miss 55 games this season. In that time, the Kings went from one of the top teams in the league to the playoff bubble. The effect he has on this team was evident on Thursday as he recorded a goal and an assist to lead Los Angeles. He corralled a wayward pass on a failed clear by T.J. Oshie sparking an offensive cycle that resulted in the game's first goal which he scored as he tapped a puck in the net after it squeaked through Grubauer.

In the second period, he pounced on a turnover in the neutral zone and fired a backhand pass right to the tape of Trevor Lewis who would drive the net for the goal.

2. Tom Wilson: Wilson is just the latest example of why professional athletes are different than normal people. In what was a scary moment, Wilson took a puck right to the forehead in the second period as a Jake Muzzin slapshot deflected up off of Nicklas Backstrom's stick. Wilson went down, then popped back to his feet, hand to his head and very quickly made his way to the locker room.

While most of us would have called out of work for the rest of the month, Wilson, however, was back for the start of the third period. And if you think a puck to the head would keep Wilson from playing a physical game, you are wrong. Wilson laid a clean shoulder check on Nate Thompson that cleaned him out. Kyle Clifford took exception and even dropped the gloves with Wilson, ignoring the giant gash in his head. The two grappled with Wilson trying to point to his head to show he couldn't fight despite Clifford's baffling insistence.

Thankfully, the referees stopped it and rightly gave Clifford an extra two minutes on the play. Wilson had a game-high seven hits, but he was also Washington's best player on the ice.

3. Trevor Lewis: The difference in this game was ultimately a strong individual play by Lewis to score the game-winning goal. A pass from Carter launched the rush by Lewis who was able to get three shots away on the drive to eventually get the goal. Grubauer stopped the first two, but Lewis was able to whack a midair puck into the net to give the Kings back the lead.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

Less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup, the Caps are in need of a new head coach.

Barry Trotz resigned as the Caps coach on Monday after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. How did we get here and where do both parties go from here? JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break it all down.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

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USA TODAY Sports

7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

For now, Todd Reirden appears to be the frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.

But who is he? 

Here are some things to know about the Capitals head coaching candidate:

1. Reirden spent the last four seasons with Washington on Barry Trotz's staff

Should Reirden be hired, he would bring a measure of familiarity with him few teams get after a coaching change. Reirden was hired by Trotz in 2014 when Trotz was putting together his staff. He was brought in to coach the team's defense and immediately improved the blue line.

In the year prior to Reirden's hiring, the Caps allowed 2.74 goals per game, good for only 21st in the NHL.

Here is what the defense has done in Reirden's four years in charge of the defense:

2014-15: 2.43 goals against per game, 7th in the NHL
2015-16: 2.33 goals against per game, 2nd in the NHL
2016-17: 2.16 goals against per game, 1st in the NHL
2017-18: 2.90 goals against per game, 16th in the NHL

In those four seasons combined, Washington allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than every team in the NHL but one. He was also in charge of the team's lethal power play.

2. Reirden has been a head coach before

While he may never have been a head coach in the NHL, Reirden does have some head coaching experience.

Reirden was promoted to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted to head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While head coach, Reirden led the team to a 55-43-8 record.

3. Reirden came to Washington from the Penguins

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate and took over as head coach later that season. He joined the Penguins' playoff staff during the 2009 Cup run. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach under with the NHL team under Bylsma in 2010 and was there for four years until Byslma was fired. Reirden was not initially fired, but was allowed to seek other opportunities. When he was officially fired, the Capitals hired him the same day.

4. Reirden had a lot to do with Matt Niskanen signing with the Caps

Reirden was hired by the Caps on June 25, 2014. On July 1, Matt Niskanen signed with Washington.

Reirden and Niskanen developed a strong relationship while in Pittsburgh. Niskanen dealt with confidence issues after getting traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Reirden's tutelage, Niskanen developed into a top-pair defenseman. Niskanen's agent said at the time it was "no secret" that Reirden and Niskanen had bonded while both were in Pittsburgh.

Brooks Orpik also signed with the Caps as a free agent that year, the second defenseman from Pittsburgh to sign in Washington showing the level of respect they felt for Reirden.

5. Reirden nearly became the head coach of Calgary

Reirden interviewed for the head coaching job in Calgary in 2016 and was considered a finalist for the position before eventually losing out Glen Gulutzan.

Gulutzan was fired by Calgary after the 2017-18 season and is now an assistant coach in Edmonton while Reirden is the frontrunner to become the head coach for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sounds like things worked out for Reirden.

6. The Caps have been grooming Reirden to be a head coach

Reirden was promoted to associate coach in August 2016 after Calgary had passed on him. Since then, the Caps have not allowed him to interview with other teams for head coaching positions. The implication was clear, this was someone the team wanted to keep.

"You know I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or someone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan Monday.

7. Reiden played in 183 career NHL games

Reirden was a defenseman drafted in the 12th round by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. After playing four years at Bowling Green, Reirden went pro with several seasons in the ECHL, IHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1998-99 season. Reirden would also play with the St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes. 

For his NHL career, Reirden scored 11 goals and 46 points in 183 games.

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