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Barry Trotz dismisses Mike Babcock's comments on the pressure being all on Washington

Barry Trotz dismisses Mike Babcock's comments on the pressure being all on Washington

Mike Babcock believes all the pressure is on the Caps. Barry Trotz doesn’t care what Babcock believes. Such is the war of words that is developing between the two coaches as their two teams prepare to meet in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Babcock has a daunting task ahead of him. With a team full of young stars, he must find a way to lead them to victory over the Washington Capitals, the top team in the NHL.

Before they even get on the ice, however, Babcock has to get his team to actually believe they can win.

There’s no questioning just how good the Caps are, but if the Leafs don’t bring any confidence with them to the series, they’ve already lost.

RELATED: Maple Leafs lose key player for Game 1 against Capitals

To that end, Babcock has an interesting take on how the pressure of the playoffs will benefit the Leafs.

“That ‘pucker factor’ is an unbelievable thing,” Babcock said to the media on Tuesday. “Until you’ve been the best seed, until you have your whole city expecting, you don’t know what’s that like and how good a defence that is for the underdog. It’s unbelievable.”

“I’ve been the underdog lots and won,” Babcock added. “I’ve been the Presidents’ Trophy winner (in 2006) and lost in the first round (to Edmonton). … My first year in Detroit, I’d never experienced anything like it and I couldn’t believe how we couldn’t skate or pass. So pressure’s a wonderful thing when you’re the underdog.”

So advantage Toronto? Trotz doesn’t think so.

Trotz responded to Babcock’s comments on Wednesday after practice and, spoiler alert, he disagrees.

“I listened to Babs' comments, he's playing you guys with that, but I think we can understand that,” Trotz said with a dismissive wave. “We expect ourselves to do well, that's the expectation that we put on ourselves. I don't think that's going to change. I think we're way more prepared for that, maybe than we were last year. I don't think that's going to be a big factor for us, we're going to leave our best game out there and that is key.”

There is something to be said for the pressure weighing on the Caps. They are the best team heading into the playoffs, they have never made it out of the second round in the Alex Ovechkin era, the clock is ticking for just how long Ovechkin can remain a superstar and this team is going to look very different next season due to several expiring contracts. This is Washington’s last best chance to win the Cup. If Toronto can steal a game or two from Verizon Center, that pressure will really begin to mount.

MORE CAPITALS: Carlson expected to return Thursday for Game 1

Trotz isn't buying it. In fact, he actually believes there’s less pressure on Washington this year than the year before given just how dominant they were in the regular season.

“There's a way different feel this year than last year, a way different feel,” Trotz said. “Last year there probably was a bit more pressure, and I don't think we were prepared, just because we had such a lead last year. I don't think we played as sharp as we were down the stretch.”

That’s not to say there’s no pressure, however, but Trotz isn’t concerned about that and certainly doesn’t see his team wilting in the first round because of it.

If you want to win in the NHL, pressure comes with the territory.

“We are trying to create the expectation to get to the next level and we haven't won a Cup, and that's something that this group has an opportunity to do,” Trotz said. “Other than that, we don't have anything other than the opportunity. Now we've just got to go out there and play."

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T.J. Oshie meets up with Seattle Jr hockey players after game in Arizona

T.J. Oshie meets up with Seattle Jr hockey players after game in Arizona

Despite a 3-1 loss to the Coyotes as the Capitals continue their west coast swing, there was one good thing to come out of Saturday night.

Even after a disappointing game, T.J. Oshie took some time to visit with a young group of hockey players from the Seattle Jr Hockey Association, a minor hockey league located in the Pacific Northwest. The team happened to be in town as they participated in a travel tournament.

While this is already enough to make one smile, there's a deeper connection between Oshie and the SJHA that makes it even better. Oshie, who grew up in Washington, got his start in hockey playing in the same league as the kids he visited with. With them being in Phoenix, Oshie got the surprise opportunity to re-connect with his humble beginnings and make some young hockey players very happy.

The Caps performance on Saturday didn't give many reasons to feel good, but this moment provided by Oshie is something that will cheer anyone up.

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Capitals at Golden Knights: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

Capitals at Golden Knights: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

The Washington Capitals continue their road trip, heading to Vegas looking for recover from an 3-1 attack to Antti Raanta and the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night. 

While the Caps look for a win, Alex Ovechkin looks to make history, joining the 700 goal club. Ovi currently sits just two goals short at 698 goals and has not scored a goal in four straight games now but that can change in no time. 

The Caps will face Marc-Andre Fleury and the Golden Knights on Monday night at 6 p.m. Fleury earned the victory in the net for Vegas after collecting 19 saves in their shut out game over New York Islanders. The Golden Knights have won their last two games by one goal. 

Here is everything you need to know about the Monday night game, which takes place at 6:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington. 

CAPITALS at GOLDEN KNIGHTS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals at Golden Knights, Game 59 of the 2019-20 NHL Regular Season

Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV 

When: Monday, February 17 at 6:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals at Golden Knights game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Golden Knights on NBC Sports live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at GOLDEN KNIGHTS TV SCHEDULE

5:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

5:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

6:00 PM: Capitals at Golden Knights

7:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

9:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

CAPITALS at GOLDEN KNIGHTS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Upper body, day-to-day

Golden Knights: Alex Tuch, RW, Leg, Week-to-week

CAPITALS at GOLDEN KNIGHTS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals (40-17-57): Sitting at 698 goals, Ovi remains on the brink of making history with 700 goals. As soon as Ovechkin reaches that mark he’ll be ranked among the greats including Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Jaromir Jagr.  

Braden Holtby, G, Capitals (21-12-4): Despite the Caps loss on Saturday Braden Holtby was by far the best player on the ice. Holtby stopped 28 of 30 shots during a 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Golden Knights (22-14-5): Fleury came in clutch earning a shutout by stopping all 19 shots that he faced in a 1-0 win against the New York Islanders on Saturday. Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his fourth shutout of the season and the 60th of his career.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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