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Barry Trotz changes Capitals' forward lines ahead of game four against the Maple Leafs

Barry Trotz changes Capitals' forward lines ahead of game four against the Maple Leafs

TORONTO—Tom Wilson got a promotion Wednesday morning as Capitals Coach Barry Trotz attempts to squeeze more production from his third line in Game 4 of the series

Wilson is now with Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky. Wilson had been on the fourth line for much of the season. The move displaced Brett Connolly, who is now on the fourth combo with Jay Beagle and Daniel Winnik.

Why the move? Through the first three games of the Caps-Leafs series, the third line had amassed 17 shots but no points at even strength.

“I’d like a little more production out of it, no question,” Trotz explained. “I think Lars has had a pretty good series. He just hasn’t got on the board. So we’re just trying to change it up to see if we can get some production out of that line.”

Asked what Wilson adds, Trotz said: “Tom Wilson. Everybody knows what Tom Wilson is. That’s what he brings.”

Related: TROTZ SAYS "IT'S ON ME" TO GET OVECHKIN MORE ICE TIME 

Wilson, a Toronto native and the Caps' overtime hero in Game 1, said he hopes his addition to the line can spark something while simultaneously giving the Leafs a different look.

“It’s important for every line to step up in the playoffs,” Wilson said. “The same people can't do it every night. Our top-six are pretty good at carrying the bulk of the load, but our bottom-six needs to chip in when we can. We get a little bit of a different look and maybe spark something.”

Related: ALZNER RULED OUT FOR GAME 4 

Wilson said he expects to quickly find some chemistry with his new linemates. He skates alongside Eller on the penalty kill and is very tight with Burakovsky.

“Hopefully we can make things work,” he said. “I’m just going to try and bring my element to the line. Play my role, play my game and hopefully it clicks and we get it going.”

Eller added: “I’ve played all year with Tom on the p.k., so I have a good idea of what Tom’s strengths are and what his tendencies are. We talked about getting net presence and getting bodies in there, and I think that’s one of the biggest things that Tom brings.”

More Capitals: CAPITALS DODGE BULLET AFTER BRADEN HOLTBY IS OK FOLLOWING COLLISION IN PRACTICE 

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Capitals service dog Captain wins Sports Dog of the Year

Capitals service dog Captain wins Sports Dog of the Year

As if any other candidate would even come close, Captain was named Sports Dog of the Year on Friday afternoon.

The four-legged phenom has been everywhere this fall, making his presence felt all over the DMV, and his popularity has extended nationwide.

Captain doesn't take days off and is always ready to have some fun.

He was there to maintain the peace during the biggest shopping day of the year and he made sure your Cyber Monday gifts arrived on time. 

He inspires greatness and has been a driving force behind the Mystics' WNBA Title as well as the Nationals' World Series victory.

He knows when its time to put in the work as well. He's always on time for meetings, and he has never missed a practice.

He's preparing to assist a Veteran or First Responder one day, and he's already making progress.

And he's always ready to celebrate.

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D.C. youth coaching legend Neal Henderson gets his due with U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction

D.C. youth coaching legend Neal Henderson gets his due with U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction

WASHINGTON — For 40 years Neal Henderson has given underprivileged kids the chance to play hockey at Fort Dupont Ice Arena.

On Thursday, Henderson was honored for his life’s work with induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Henderson was inducted along with NHL greats Tim Thomas and Brian Gionta, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and U.S. Olympian Krissy Wendell. He heard kind words spoken about his program, the Fort Dupont Cannons, from the likes of Bettman, Alex Ovechkin and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and also received a video tribute. 

It’s been quite a week for Henderson, who drew a sustained ovation from the crowd at Tuesday’s Capitals-Boston Bruins game when acknowledged on the big video board at Capital One Arena. 

“It’s amazing. Something I never believed I could be a part of,” Henderson said. “It’s the zenith of my life other than being married and having a son. I’ve enjoyed what I have done. I didn’t do it for the reasons of being here. I did it for the love of kids and the parents who trusted me with their children.”  

Henderson said he “became completely numb” when he got the phone call learning he’d be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The Cannons developmental program, based at Fort Dupont, is designed to help local underprivileged kids play an expensive sport that is out of reach for many. Fort Dupont features the oldest minority hockey league in North America. 

It’s not a route to the NHL. But Henderson has helped kids play high school and college hockey, passing on the lessons he’s learned over decades: That hard work and character matter. That education is crucial. He believes hockey helps forge those traits. The Cannons give kids a chance to travel to other cities to play games. They were an integral part of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone campaign, which seeks to broaden the sport, make it more inclusive, help better communities.

A clip showed during Ovechkin’s tribute video after being named the Wayne Gretzky International Award recipient at Thursday’s induction dinner, showed the Stanley Cup at Fort Dupont with the Cannons. That was Ovechkin’s idea, according to Leonsis.

“I asked Alex ‘Where do you want to go?’ He said ‘I want to see kids at Georgetown Cancer Center.” And we went there. And then he wanted to pay homage to Coach Neal,” Leonsis said. “And so we went to Fort Dupont. It’s great that he’s here.”

Henderson said he hoped his induction would help encourage more people of color to embrace hockey. He started the program in the late 1970s thinking he’d simply get his son through the program, which works with kids ages 8 to 18. But he just kept going – in part because kids kept coming to the Cannons and in part because he just couldn’t refuse them. Decades later he’s still here working with them. 

“A lot of people don’t feel that they have the opportunity when it’s right at their back door,” Henderson said. “If they take just one more step they’ll find that there are people out there that’s willing to help them. All you have to do is be there willing to make sure they get the chance.”

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