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Capitals' Barry Trotz 'concerned' about Alex Ovechkin's slump, confident he'll bounce back

Capitals' Barry Trotz 'concerned' about Alex Ovechkin's slump, confident he'll bounce back

Barry Trotz acknowledged Thursday that he’s concerned about the recent downturn in Alex Ovechkin’s goal production.

The Capitals’ captain has a team-best 14 goals this season—tied for 10th in the NHL entering Thursday’s games—but he’s got just two goals in the last 12 contests.

“Am I concerned?” Trotz said after practice. “Yeah, I have concern that his production is down because we need his production to win.”

At his current pace, Ovechkin would finish with 37 goals, or his lowest total in a full season since he scored 32 in 2010-11. He’s tallied 50 or more goals in each of the past three seasons and has claimed the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal scorer four years running.

If he’s going to add a fifth straight Richard to his overflowing trophy case, though, he’s going to need to make up some ground over the final 51 games.

Entering Thursday’s games, Sidney Crosby (22 goals), David Pastrnak (19) and Patrik Laine (18) had a little cushion on the rest of the top scorers.

Of course, Ovechkin has throughout his career shown the ability to score goals in bunches. So catching up to Crosby and Co. can’t be ruled out.

If you recall, Ovechkin got hot in the second half of last season. Through 31 games a year ago, he had 17 goals and then went on a tear in his final 48 games, scoring 33 times. During that torrid stretch, Ovechkin amassed seven multiple goal performances, including a pair of hat tricks.

“His history will state that he will get on some hot streak here,” Trotz said. “And he’ll score some goals.”

“But,” the coach continued, “if we’re going to be successful, we got to have Ovi being productive. We need [Nicklas Backstrom] being productive. We need [Andre] Burakovsky being productive. Ovi carries high expectations by the fans, us, everybody to put up offensive numbers. The best way he can do that is with his line working together and finding ways to get open and the power play executing.”

So what’s the cause for the recent dip? Is it his linemates? Is it the fact that he’s skating an avearge of 18:46, which is roughly a minute and a half less than he’s received in recent years? A combination of all of those reasons?

That’s unclear, but Trotz said he's talked to Ovechkin and his other top forwards about working smarter without the puck in an effort to get it back quicker. Trotz also said he’d like to see Ovechkin put more shots on net. With 122, he’s on pace for 323, which would represent his lowest shot total in a full season in six years. In five of the last eight games, Ovechkin has mustered three or fewer shots on net, including just two in the Capitals’ 3-2 shootout loss in Philadelphia.

“Right now, he’s had a dry spell where he hasn’t gotten a lot of shots,” Trotz said. “Is that a little bit of him of him? A little bit of his linemates? Or how we’re going? He’s capable of going through a week where he gets 10 goals and we’ll go, ‘Yeah, everything’s fine.’”

“He’s dynamic,” Trotz added. “We need him to win. Plain and simple.”

MORE CAPITALS: Burakovsky 'shocked' to score Wednesday

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Dmitrij Jaskin's year goes from bad to worse as his former team prepares to play in Stanley Cup Final

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Dmitrij Jaskin's year goes from bad to worse as his former team prepares to play in Stanley Cup Final

Dmitrij Jaskin had a tough year. He played in only 37 games for the Capitals and scored only two goals and six assists. He seemed to struggle to earn the trust of head coach Todd Reirden and did not play a single game in the playoffs.

A tough year just got a little bit worse for Jaskin as now he will watch his former team, the St. Louis Blues, play in the Stanley Cup Final starting Monday.

Jaskin was a member of the Blues through training camp, but was a surprise addition to the Caps’ roster just one day before the start of the regular season. Frustrated with his lack of opportunities in St. Louis, Jaskin requested a trade and the Blues placed him on waivers. With Tom Wilson still awaiting word on how long his suspension would be for his hit to Oskar Sundqvist in the preseason, Washington claimed Jaskin off waivers for more forward depth.

Though Jaskin was an established NHL player with over 250 games of experience and 25 goals, he was used sparingly by Reirden. Jaskin seemed to play well when given the opportunity, but showed a lack of finish offensively that earned him the ire of the coaches. Any mistakes would see him taken out of the lineup completely.

“Obviously it was disappointing,” Jaskin said of his season. “I thought it would be better, but you always gain some experience from another season. It's over with and there's nothing I can do about it, just can get ready for next season and look forward to it.”

Though his individual situation was challenging, Jaskin looked like he was in a much better position for a deep playoff run than his former squad. The Caps were the defending Stanley Cup champions and would go on to win the Metropolitan Division while the Blues were in last place in the entire NHL as late in the season as Jan. 3. The two teams suffered a reversal in fortune in the postseason as Washington was bounced out of the first round by the Carolina Hurricanes. St. Louis eliminated the Winnipeg Jets in six games, won a Game 7 thriller in double overtime against the Dallas Stars and closed out the San Jose Sharks with three straight wins in the conference finals.

“I wish them all the best,” Jaskin said following the first round. “I think it's pretty impressive that they won against Winnipeg. Now, as you see, everybody's got the same chances. A lot of upsets this year and I think they have a pretty good chance to go far.”

Luckily for Jaskin, he did manage to find some playing time this summer in the World Championship tournament playing with the Czech Republic.  He has scored two goals and two assists in nine games and will play for the bronze medal on Sunday.

After that, his future remains unclear. Jaskin is a restricted free agent meaning the Caps will have a chance to retain his rights and his playing in Worlds seems to indicate he is secure in his position. At the same time, he was used sparingly enough throughout the season that whether the team will offer him a qualifying offer remains a question.

“I'll love to stay,” Jaskin said. “I love it here, guys are great and the organization and the city, everything's good. I would like to stay, but we'll see.”

For now, however, Jaskin will have to sit and watch to see whether his old team, the team he requested a trade from, will hoist the Stanley Cup.

“Obviously it's frustrating to not keep on playing and watch them play,” Jaskin said, “But as I said I wish them all the best and I think they have a pretty good chance.”

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How to watch the IIHF World Championship Finals: Date, Time, TV Channel, Lineups

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How to watch the IIHF World Championship Finals: Date, Time, TV Channel, Lineups

The 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship is coming to a close this Memorial Day weekend.

After two weeks, the sixteen team field has been narrowed down to four with the world championship now on the line in Slovakia. 

The two group winners, Canada, the top-ranked team in the world and 26-time IIHF Champions, and Russia, who rolled through the group stage with a 7-0 record and a +29 goal differential, are the favorites. Russia overwhelmingly has played like the best team in Slovakia, outscoring its opponents 40-10 behind Nikita Kucherov's 16 points in eight games.

The Russian/ Soviet Union team is the only team with more titles than the Canadians with 27 (five as Russia, 22 as the Soviet Union). 

Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin is playing for Team Russia. In eight games he's scored two goals and recorded an assist. 

Canada will face off against the Czech Republic, whose only loss came against the Russians in group play, with a spot to the Finals on the line. Russia will play Finland for the last spot in the gold medal match.

Three of the four teams remaining (Russia, Canda, and the Czech Republic) are the winningest teams in the IIHF's history. The four semifinalists have combined to win 67 of the 82 IIHF World Championships.

When is the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?

The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will take place at 8:15 p.m. local time (2:15 p.m. ET) on Sunday, May 26. The bronze medal match will precede the gold medal match at 3:45 p.m. local time (9:15 a.m. ET). 

2019 IIHF World Championship Schedule:

There are only four matches left in the 2019 IIHF World Championship. The two semifinals, the bronze medal match, and the gold medal match.

SEMIFINALS:
No. 3 Russia vs. No. 5 Finland, 9:15 a.m. ET, May 25
No. 1 Canada vs. No. 6 Czech Republic, 1:15 p.m. ET, May 25

BRONZE MEDAL MATCH:
Loser of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Loser of Semifinal No. 2, 9:45 a.m. ET, May 26

GOLD MEDAL MATCH:
Winner of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal No. 2, 2:15 p.m. ET, May 26

How to watch or stream the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:

All games at the IIHF World Championships will be broadcast on NHL Network.

Who is playing in the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?

The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will be played between the winner of Russia (8-0-0)/ Finland (7-0-1) and Canada (7-1-0)/ Czech Republic (7-0-1).

Lineups for the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:

Lineups for the 2019 IIHF Championship Finals will be announced on the morning of May 26.