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Caps GM Brian MacLellan doesn't think the Capitals are playing the right way

Caps GM Brian MacLellan doesn't think the Capitals are playing the right way

Braden Holtby's eyes immediately raised to the ceiling as he knew Ben Chiarot's one-timer had beaten him. The Montreal Canadiens defenseman scored the overtime winner on Thursday to hand the Capitals a 4-3 loss. Montreal came into Thursday's game with five straight losses including one to the lowly Detroit Red Wings. And yet, it was the Caps, a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, that saw its woes extended for yet another game.

Washington has now lost three games in a row for just the second time all season - and the first time since October. They have lost five of six overall and, since Dec. 23 have gone 11-11-1. Their impressive lead over the Metropolitan Division is now gone as Washington sits tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins with 80 points, but Pittsburgh holds a game in hand.

A Capitals team that does not often suffer through major adversity through the regular season is certainly doing so now. General manager Brian MacLellan knew that even before Thursday's loss.

"I don't think we're playing the right way," MacLellan said Wednesday. "I think there's a little cheat in our game. I think we're playing teams that are very well-structured in the neutral zone and we're not willing to do the right things to counteract that. I think we gotta get more in the mindset of we're willing to play a 1-0 game and we're not there right now. It's a team effort. The forwards contribute to it, defense contributes to it, and we got to get all on the same page here and play a tighter game."

The team acquired defenseman Brenden Dillon in a trade on Tuesday and, though MacLellan was firm that this was a move he would have made anyway, it is fair to wonder just how much the current state of the team forced his hand.

"I think sometimes our defense is getting pinpointed for it where I think team defense should be more the focus of the criticism," MacLellan said. "I think our forwards contribute to the pressure that's put on our D: wall play in our own end, back pressure, lack of a forecheck. I think our team game is off, and that results in poor defensive efforts from basically our team."

With the trade deadline on Monday and the team continuing to struggle in its own zone, will MacLellan's frustration turn into more additions to the roster? Given the team's limited cap space, that seems unlikely. If there are additions to be made, they will likely be depth ones unless MacLellan intends to trade away roster players in a sudden move to shake up the team.

More likely, the solution is going to have to come from within and the onus will fall on both the coaches and the players. Clearly adjustments are needed from the coaches to put the defense in a better position, but the responsibly also falls on the players who are making far too many mistakes on the ice with misreads, poor puck management and no team defense.

"It's frustrating to be where we are at this point," MacLellan said, "But I think it's a work-in-progress and hopefully it's a bit of a wake-up call that we have to (play) that way."

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T.J. Oshie likes his chances if given the opportunity to hit a penalty shot to win the Stanley Cup

T.J. Oshie likes his chances if given the opportunity to hit a penalty shot to win the Stanley Cup

T..J Oshie has some experience in clutch moments when the game is on the line and his name is called.

Thursday, his name wasn't listed in a hypothetical poll on Twitter on which player fans would want to take the final shot if the Stanley Cup was on the line. A shocking omission of one of the most legendary shootout players of all-time.

Even with options such as Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Patrick Kane, No. 77 insinuated he had a different player in mind.

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Oshie single-handedly defeated Russia at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi over six years ago.

Six times Oshie was sent to the ice in a shootout in a preliminary round match against Russia. He answered the bell four times for another legendary U.S. win over Russia.

Oshie has the fourth-most shootout goals (45) in NHL history, only trailing Kane, (47), Frans Nielsen (49), and Jonathan Toews (50).

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Alex Ovechkin among players contributing to CCM Hockey's donation of surgical masks

Alex Ovechkin among players contributing to CCM Hockey's donation of surgical masks

With surgical masks in short supply because of the coronavirus pandemic, different companies are stepping up to provide masks to the people who need them the most, the healthcare workers. CCM Hockey is among those companies and announced on Wednesday that they will be donating 500,000 surgical masks to healthcare workers.

Several NHL stars are contributing to the donation including Alex Ovechkin.

“By teaming up with our roster of CCM athletes, we will be able to play a role in the collaborative effort to get past this crisis,” CCM CEO Rick Blackshaw said in a statement on their website. “We focused on the best use of our network and our resources to have the quickest impact. Sourcing greatly needed equipment through our established supply chain partners in Asia is the most efficient way for us to support and keep our real heroes safe."

Ovechkin is listed among the players who contributed to the CCM donation.

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The other players listed are Mat Barzal, Patrice Bergeron, Brock Boeser, Dani Cameranesi, Brandon Carlo, Thomas Chabot, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Sidney Crosby, Melodie Daoust, Alex Debrincat, Brianna Decker, Matt Duchene, Matt Dumba, Marc-Andre Fleury, Filip Forsberg, Jake Gardiner, Miro Heiskanen, Filip Hronek, Jonathan Huberdeau, Seth Jones, Nathan Mackinnon, Charlie McAvoy, Connor McDavid, Artemi Panarin, Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, and John Tavares.

“The CCM Pros are men and women of action," Blackshaw said. "It troubles them to feel helpless as they witness the devastating effects of this pandemic. At the core of this great sport, hockey is about courage, commitment to a higher goal, as well as to one another. It is exactly these player qualities and beliefs that will allow us to emerge stronger from this challenge.”

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