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The Caps have a quiet confidence after trading for Kevin Shattenkirk

The Caps have a quiet confidence after trading for Kevin Shattenkirk

NEW YORK—Kevin Shattenkirk did not arrive in time to participate in Tuesday’s morning skate following the Monday night trade, but his presence still was felt in the visitors’ dressing room at Madison Square Garden.

“It’s like there’s a quiet confidence now,” defenseman Karl Alzner explained.

“There have been years when we’ve been really good and we haven’t picked anybody and you’re kinda like, ‘Alright, we still have a good team but it would have been nice to have that little boost.’

“Now,” Alzner added, “it seems like we’ve gotten that. It’s been a quiet confidence this morning. Guys have a little bit more energy, are a little bit giddy in a way, which is kinda funny. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.”

Across the room, veterans Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin acknowledged that management did its job. And now the pressure is squarely on the players to do theirs.  

“We believe we have an even better team than we had last year,” Williams said.


“But it’s how we respond to it. You have to embrace the pressure on yourself. Because after [the trade], we still have to go out and play. It’s not just on paper, it’s how we come together, it’s how we play and how we respond to it.”

Ovechkin said: “Every year we talk about, ‘This is our year, this is our year.’ Enough Talk. It’s time to do something.”

Williams also praised Shattenkirk’s on-ice demeanor.

“I like that he’s got some attitude to him,” said Williams, who faced him often when both played in the Western Conference. “He’s not just an offensive guy that’s going to shy away when it gets tough. Yes, he’s good offensively. But he doesn’t back down, and that’s what I like.”

Although the overwhelming mood was one of excitement, there are a few players who know Shattenkirk’s arrival means less ice time. Or even no ice time.

Against the Rangers, Nate Schmidt is expected to play alongside Shattenkirk.


But Schmidt also knows that when Brooks Orpik is ready to return from injury, there are no guarantees. 

“For the team, this is a great move,” Schmidt said. “You can’t be more happy for what our guys got in return. You got a heckuva player. What more can you ask for in a trade that brings in a player of his magnitude? Personally, it’s tough. But this is good for the team. This is a good for us in the long run.”

Coach Barry Trotz, meanwhile, said the chance to add a player of Shattenkirk’s ability was simply too good to pass up given the sense of urgency the Caps feel this season.

“Obviously we gave up a real good player and some picks,” Trotz said, referring to prospect Zach Zanford. “But at the same time, we’re getting a real good player. You don’t want to have an opportunity go by, where you think that you could have made a difference. [General Manager Brian MacLellan] is doing everything he can to see if he can make a difference for us.”


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Alex Ovechkin teaching his son hockey might be the most adorable thing ever

Alex Ovechkin teaching his son hockey might be the most adorable thing ever

The Capitals had an off day on Sunday ahead of their Monday matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets, giving the opportunity for Alex Ovechkin to spend some time with his son.

Sergei and his dad came across a baby hockey stick and Ovechkin decided to teach his son a few moves.

The 2035 NHL mock drafts have yet to be released, but we have an early pick for No. 1…


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Backstrom's back: Caps will get their top center back for Monday's game

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Backstrom's back: Caps will get their top center back for Monday's game

ARLINGTON, Va -- The Capitals are riding a six-game win streak and already have the most points in the NHL and now they will be adding one of their best players back into the lineup. Nicklas Backstrom said Sunday after practice that he is "ready to go" for Monday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It will be his first game since Nov. 18.

An upper-body injury forced Backstrom out of the lineup for the last eight games. Despite returning to practice during the team's road trip through California, he did not get into a game as the team preached caution with its star center. As the team returned home, Backstrom took line rushes on Sunday and both he and head coach Todd Reirden confirmed he would be back in for Monday's game.

"It was good to see him out there in full practice," Reirden said. "Did some drills specifically to help prepare him for tomorrow. He's good to go for tomorrow."

Backstrom said he knew when he woke up on Sunday that he was ready.

"As of today I'm good to go," he said. "I woke up and felt good. It's like that guy in 'Mighty Ducks,' I woke up, no pain."

It does not appear as if Backstrom will be eased back into the lineup as he skated on the top line in practice alongside Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson. Evgeny Kuznetsov had been playing in that spot, but the top line had grown stagnant. Ovechkin, Wilson and Kuznetsov combined for only one even-strength point in the past three games.

Barring something unexpected, the return of Backstrom should give the Caps their full lineup for the first time all season. Considering what the team has been able to accomplish thus far while having to shuffle the lineup because of injuries and suspensions, this has been an impressive start.

"I think that shows the depth that we have all the way through our lineup: forward, defenseman and our goaltending has been strong," Reirden said. "I think it's a clear understanding that it's a competitive situation that we've had since training camp that players are ready to take advantage of their opportunities that they get and they know that they need to otherwise there's a chance they could find themselves on the outside. The inner-competition we've had has probably helped push that a little bit. That's been a good problem to have, and it's allowed us to see some other players get opportunities and showcase some of the abilities they have."