Capitals

Mystics seek relief against Sun

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Mystics seek relief against Sun

Two of the Mystics 12 gloomy losses this season have come against the Connecticut Sun, leaders of the Eastern Conference pack. A home-and-home scenario between the two sides tips off on Tuesday morning. Based on this seasons head-to-head and collective results, the projected forecast for Washington when it comes to avoiding another pair of defeats, ominous.After coming up with a winning formula against Phoenix on July 1, the Mystics (3-12) have dropped two straight including Sundays stunning 16-point road loss to the three-win Tulsa Shock. Looking to reverse the trend, one that has seen Washington lose seven of eight games, against surging Connecticut (12-4) is the epitome of an uphill battle. Its one the last place squad must grapple with and quickly. Only three games remain before the WNBAs month-long Olympic break. The first one tips off at 11:30 AM on Tuesday at home followed by a Wednesday road contest in Connecticut.Our goal is to play better for longer stretches of time and to put together a 40 minute game, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said following the 78-62 loss at Tulsa. There are stretches where we play well and we look good and then we have defensive breakdowns and we turn the ball over. We allow teams to go on runs and that has to stop. After Fridays 78-73 home loss to San Antonio, center Michelle Snow offered a blunt assessment of the current situation. "It's very frustrating. I'm not used to losing,'' said Snow, a 10-year veteran playing her first season in Washington. "You just want to scream, you want to blow up, you want to fight, whatever it takes to wake everybody up. Honestly, a change is going to come. You can be part of that change here or you'll just be part of that rotation (leaving town). That's the way any job is.''The main job for Snow and her fellow post players against Connecticut involves containing Tina Charles. Good luck. The center and 2012 Olympian averages 18.6 points and ranks second in the league with 11.6 rebounds.In a 94-86 win over the Mystics on June 3, Charles exploded for a season-high 30 points, knocking down 13 of 22 field goal attempts. In the June 29 rematch,her13 and 10 double-double spurred ona 77-64 victory at the Verizon Center.Tina is a great player and she is going to do her thing, Mystics leading scorer Crystal Langhorne said after tangling the first time with Charles. We let her get some easy chip-ins in the first half, which got her going, and then she was really hot in the second half and she was hitting everything. We just needed to contain her a little better than we did.Charles is not the Suns only threat, or Olympian. Forward Asjha Jones averages 12.8 points, a number boosted by the she20 points she tallied in the road win. Collectively the Sun, winners of two straight and sixconsecutive against Washington,average 83 points per game. That's nearly 14 more than the Mystics, the leagues lowest scoring team.Only Langhorne reached double figures against Tulsa as the Mystics struggled with consistency and maintaining possession, giving away scoring opportunities with 19 turnovers. Our main focus when we play Connecticut is slowing down our offense, said Langhorne, who is averaging 18 points against the Sun and 16.6 overall. They have great post players and great shooters. We just really need to pick it up.Pick it up, and quickly.

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A special night for Barry Trotz on his return to Washington

A special night for Barry Trotz on his return to Washington

WASHINGTON — Barry Trotz stood on an the unfamiliar visitors’ bench and scanned the rafters at Capital One Arena as the national anthem played. 

It had to be around here somewhere. He looked to one side of the scoreboard and then the other. Finally his eyes locked on the 2018 Stanley Cup banner hanging in the south end of the arena, a testament to a season he will remember the rest of his life. 

"I was just focused on the game. Until the national anthem, I didn’t even know where it was,” Trotz said. “I was looking on the other side, around the clock, and then I turn around and there it is. That’s a proud moment for everybody involved: ownership, Ted Leonsis, and [Brian MacLellan] in management, and the players and everybody, the fans. That’s the one you want.” 

Trotz could afford a reflective mood as he spoke after a 2-0 win against the Capitals in his first game back in Washington since leading the franchise to its first Stanley Cup last June. The Islanders broke a scoreless tie with two goals in the third period just 2:26 apart. They are the surprise of the NHL after losing star center John Tavares to free agency last summer. They are all alone in first place in the Metropolitan Division now well past the halfway point of the season. 

Trotz stayed focused before the game. He arrived hours before game time and holed up in his office trying to figure a way the Islanders could win the second of a back-to-back against the rested Capitals.

At the first television timeout of the first period, Trotz steadied himself for the video tribute the Capitals put together. There, on the giant scoreboard, the indelible images flashed: Trotz at his opening press conference in 2014, promising his new team had what it took to win a championship, winning the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year, laughing with his players, skating the hot laps during last year’s playoffs, lifting the Stanley Cup. The Capital One Arena crowd stood and roared for the entire break in the action.  

“My heart got full of all the good memories,” Trotz said. “I was looking up there. I was trying not to look too much because I was getting pretty close to that sensitive side of myself. But it was extremely well done and it was just great memories. Everybody was a part of something special.”

Afterward they had another mini reunion outside the Washington locker room, his home for four years. Trotz and Lane Lambert, his assistant for all four years with the Caps, chatted with players as they came out. It wasn’t as emotional as the championship ring ceremony when the two teams first met on Nov. 26 in Brooklyn. Trotz’s voice wavered as he addressed his former players before that game. This time was all laughs. 

Capitals assistant Blaine Forsythe was there and head coach Todd Reirden briefly stopped by. Tom Wilson and Matt Niskanen and Devante Smith-Pelly came over to say hello. Brooks Orpik, who had a memorable night of his own with a ceremony for playing in his 1,000th NHL game earlier in the week, leaned against a wall and chatted with Trotz and Lambert, who jabbed Caps goalie coach Scott Murray and said he better have a “hotter suit” the next time they meet, which will be in New York on March 1.

Maybe then the Islanders will have come down to earth or maybe Trotz is in the midst of another magical season. Maybe these two teams, with so much shared history, are destined to meet again in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“They’ve got the same team. They’re a good hockey team. There’s no question,” Trotz said. “They’ve got lots of mettle and it starts with their leadership and [Nicklas Backstrom] and [Alex Ovechkin] and that core group….That whole group, Johnny Carlson, all the guys that have here for a long time, they’ve got lots of mettle. I’m fortunate to have another great group to work with on the Island. As I said to them, I hope we can have the same experience down the road. It’s special doing that.”

 

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Barry Trotz returns to DC and hands the Capitals a fourth straight loss

Barry Trotz returns to DC and hands the Capitals a fourth straight loss

The New York Islanders outlasted the Capitals in a defensive battle Friday with two third period goals to hand Washington a 2-0 loss in Barry Trotz's return to Capital One Arena. The loss is now the Caps' fourth straight and knocks them down to third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Here are three reasons Washington lost.

Defense

You could definitely see the effect Barry Trotz has had on this Islanders team in this one. Last year, the Islanders were laughably terrible on defense. On Friday, they frustrated the Caps offense all night long.

New York was positionally sound all game long, forcing the Caps to the outside and limiting all of their offensive opportunities. Every time it looked like Washington had a rush developing, the Islanders got back and got in front of the puck. Every time the Caps tried to set up their offense, New York forced them to the perimeter and kept them from the high-danger areas. Thomas Greiss was there to clean up the rest as he recorded his second shutout of the season.

Washington was limited to just 19 shots on goal on the night, 15 through the first two periods.

A third period breakthrough

Braden Holtby looked very sharp for the Caps all night long in his first game since he suffered an eye injury on Jan. 12. He was finally beaten in the third period thanks to a great deflection by Josh Bailey.

Mathew Barzal showed some great puck control as he entered the offensive zone, wheeled around away from the initial defensive pressure, carried it to the high slot and fired a shot. By wheeling around, that allowed Bailey the chance to park himself in front of Holtby for the deflection.

In such a tight defensive game, you knew it was going to be an ugly goal like Bailey’s that would finally break through.

A third-period 2-on-0

John Carlson pinched into the offensive zone. When that happens, that means it’s Michal Kempny’s job to hightail it back on defense if the puck gets past Carlson.

Instead, Kempny tried to step up and to try to keep the puck in at the blue line. Cal Clutterbuck got the puck past him, and it was off to the races with him and Matt Martin on a 2-on-0. Clutterbuck called his own number and finished off the play with the goal to put the Islanders up 2-0.

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