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Barry Trotz says decision to pull Braden Holtby was based on play, not injury

Barry Trotz says decision to pull Braden Holtby was based on play, not injury

It's pretty rare to see a bad game from Braden Holtby. It's so rare, in fact, that when Philipp Grubauer skated on to start the second period on Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs in place of Holtby, you could be forgiven for wondering if Holtby had suffered an injury in the opening frame.

According to Barry Trotz, however, that was not the case.

"I didn't think Holts was really strong today," Trotz said after the Caps' 6-5 win. "... I just felt he was battling the puck today."

When asked specifically to clarify if the move was made due to injury, Trotz said it was not.

RELATED: Caps rally big, finish with Ovechkin OT winner

The reason for the confusion stems from just how unusual it is to see Holtby get the hook. Tuesday marked the first time this season the Caps' netminder was pulled. You have to go all the way back to March 20, 2016 for the last time in which he was yanked.

But clearly Holtby was not having his best night for the Caps as he allowed three goals in just eight shots in the first period. While Trotz absolved him of blame for the third goal, a shot by Connor Carrick that found the tape of Frederik Gauthier for the tip in that Holtby missed due to a screen from his own defensemen, it was clear a change was needed.

"[Holtby's] been so good for so long for us, that I just wanted to change the momentum and see if we can get some momentum off of that," Trotz said, "And I thought Gruby came in and did a decent job."

MORE CAPITALS: One stat that illustrates Ovechkin's dominance

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Capitals Prospect Report: Connor McMichael is on pace for a special season

Capitals Prospect Report: Connor McMichael is on pace for a special season

Guys, we need to talk about Connor McMichael.

First off, he had another ridiculous week:

  • On Thursday, Nov. 7 he scored a goal for Team OHL in the Canada-Russia Series in a 4-1 win for the OHL.
  • On Friday, Nov. 8 he scored one goal and three assists in a 4-3 win for London over North Bay. He was named the first star of the game.
  • On Saturday, Nov. 9 he scored one goal and two assists in a 4-2 win for London over Owen Sound. He was again named the first star of the game.
  • On Monday, Nov. 11 he scored a goal in the OHL's second game in the Canada-Russia Series, this time in a losing effort to Russia.

What we really need to talk about is how absurdly McMichael is dominating the OHL. He currently leads the league in points with 41. Arthur Kaliyev and Quinton Byfield are right behind him at 39 points, but both players have played in 21 games. McMichael has played in just 16. Of those 16 games, he has been held off the scoresheet in only one of them. He has registered 19 goals and 22 assists. In 2006-07, Patrick Kane recorded an incredible 62-goal, 145-point season. Through the first 16 games of that season, per The London Free Press, Kane had scored five fewer goals and had seven fewer points.

That's right, McMichael has compiled 41 points in just 16 games. That is a rate of 2.56 points per game. According to McKeen Hockey, that is the second-highest rate of points per game in the OHL among U19 players of all-time, second only to Eric Lindros.

It is still early in the season and that is one heck of a pace he's producing at, but we could be looking at a very special season for him.  That of course begs the question, just how good could this guy be in the NHL?

Other prospect notes

  • Aliaksei Protas sits tied for the WHL lead in points with 30. Earlier in the week he was in sole possession of the league lead meaning that Caps prospects were simultaneously leading both the OHL and WHL in points.
  • Riley Sutter was officially reassigned to Hershey over the week. Because he was injured before the season, he was still technically with the Caps on non-roster season-opening injured reserve. He had been sent to Hershey several weeks ago along with Kody Clark to continue training there, but could not officially be sent to the AHL until he was medically cleared.
  • Nova Caps spoke with Martin Fehervary about his first season in North America. “The hockey in Sweden compared to North America, the style is very similar," he said. "It’s fast hockey, they skate really well so its fast hockey. It’s kind of the same, I would say here it’s a little bit faster but the adjustment was kind of easy so far.” You can read the full article here.
  • Pheonix Copley accomplished a rare feat on Wednesday as he recorded a shutout in a loss. Hershey lost 1-0 in a shootout to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Copley saved all 29 shots he faced in the game to record the shutout, but the Bears ultimately lost in the shootout so he collected the "L" as well.
  • Mitchell Gibson made his collegiate debut on Friday for Harvard. He started against Princeton and stopped all 31 shots he faced for the shutout win. He was given the start again on the following day against Quinnipiac and again had a strong showing with 32 saves on 34 shots in the 7-2 win.
  • Mike Sgarbossa had one of the highlights of the week with his shootout goal against Lehigh Valley.

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Todd Reirden brings champs in locker room to keep Capitals motivated

Todd Reirden brings champs in locker room to keep Capitals motivated

They say D.C. is the new title town, and Washington's head coach Todd Reirden is looking to capitalize on that momentum by keeping that energy around his team the best way he knows how: hearing straight from the champs themselves.

On the Junkies, Reirden recounted bringing in Mystics' star forward Elena Delle Donne and Nationals' outfielder Adam Eaton, saying he invited them to remind the 2018 Stanley Cup champions "what it feels like [to win], have people that win championships and especially fellow athletes that are right in the D.C. area."

"I think that's something that kind of got the fire burning a little bit, and it has been burning, to be 100% truthful, since we lost last year," Reirden said.

The Capitals lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in a seven-game first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs that ended in double-overtime.

Washington sits atop the National Hockey League, leading everyone by at least five points -- Washington has 32 points through 20 games, while the second-place Islanders have 27 points through 17 games.

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