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Caps hold players-only meeting after Game 2 loss to say things 'that some people need to hear'

Caps hold players-only meeting after Game 2 loss to say things 'that some people need to hear'

As the media gathered outside the locker room of the Washington Capitals on Saturday night, they were met with closed doors and a lengthy wait. After a devastating 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of their second round series, clearly there were things that needed to be said, points that needed to be made behind closed doors.

The Caps gathered for a players-only meeting following the loss on Saturday. When the doors finally opened and the players did finally speak to reporters, clearly the emotions were raw and lips were sealed.

“None of your business,” Matt Niskanen said when asked what the message in the locker room was after the game.

“That stay between us,” Alex Ovechkin said.

RELATED: Holtby critical of his performance Saturday night

Some of the players were a bit more forthcoming, but details were still scarce. T.J. Oshie revealed that the overall message was “Things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear.”

“We were very together with what we said,” Oshie continued. “I don’t really need to go into details, but sometimes in our games and I’m sure in other sports as well, sometimes you need to hear from your teammates more than you need to hear from your coach.”

As the team was coming off the ice, Barry Trotz said that leaders on the team approached him about letting them speak to the team themselves.

“I think that's great,” Trotz said. “That's great leadership. That's ownership when your players are in the room talking about stuff because that's galvanizing. I think that's a huge step for us.”

The results will need to be seen soon, however, as the Caps are quickly running out of time with which to battle back in this series.

Washington jumped out to a strong start on Saturday, but was unable to capitalize in a scoreless first period. Things derailed after the opening frame as Pittsburgh took a 3-1 lead in the second and finished the Caps off with a strong third period to win the game 6-2.

Now the Caps face a daunting task of having to battle back from a 2-0 series deficit against their archrivals and defending Stanley Cup champions with the next two games in Pittsburgh. They will need to win both of those games to have a realistic chance of coming back in the series.

 “No one in here needs a lesson about how to go home early,” Oshie said. “We’ve done that. It’s well known, the fans know it, so we need to man up here and go into Game 3, change our attitude and have some fun while we do it.”

MORE CAPITALS: 3 observations: Missed opportunity leads to tough questions

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Metropolitan Division Outlook 2019-20: The New York Islanders - Can Barry Trotz work his magic again?

Metropolitan Division Outlook 2019-20: The New York Islanders - Can Barry Trotz work his magic again?

The Capitals enter the 2019-20 season looking for their fifth consecutive Metropolitan Division title.

But this could be the most challenging year yet. The bottom of the division has improved dramatically with offseason moves and the top of the division still has quality teams. It’s hard to figure who will crater and finish last. The winning team might not top 100 points.

For the next two weeks, NBC Sports Washington will take a look at each Metro team and where they stand with training camps opening in less than a month. Today: The New York Islanders.

The surprise team of 2018-19 is back to prove that was no fluke. It was the Islanders who finished second to the Capitals in the Metropolitan Division last season, not the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was Barry Trotz who won the Jack Adams Award. It was New York who shook off the loss of star center Jonathan Tavares and somehow made the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs before a getting swept by the Carolina Hurricanes. 

The Metro appears tougher on paper this time around and the Capitals and Penguins still are formidable opponents. The Islanders also swapped out their best goalie (Robin Lehner) for more of a talented question mark (Semyon Varlamov). And they lost in the Artemi Panarin free-agent sweepstakes to the rival New York Rangers. 

None of that bodes well, but the Islanders do have plenty to build on. They have a balanced top six with Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson centering solid lines. Anders Lee led the team with 28 goals and he was re-signed. Josh Bailey had 56 points, which was second only to Barzal (62). 

And don’t forget about maybe the best fourth line in the NHL (Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck), which combined for 34 goals last season. Cizikas alone had 20.  

Without an 80-point game-breaker - though Barzal has the talent to get there - New York has to be steady in its own end and get close to the fantastic goaltending it received last year from Lehner and Tomas Greiss. 

This time it will be Varlamov and Greiss. In front of them is a fine top pair in Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. But the blueline overall features almost no household names. 

The Islanders, thanks in large part to Trotz and some of the same assistant coaches who helped the Capitals win the Stanley Cup in 2018, shocked the NHL last year. It shouldn’t be a surprise this time if they remain in playoff contention most of the season. 

But the Metro has gotten better and New York at best remained in place. The Islanders won’t sneak up on anyone this time around. Just making it back into the postseason tournament would be a win.  

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Capitals Goal of the Year Bracket: Backstrom's No-Look Pass to Oshie vs Vrana Speed

Capitals Goal of the Year Bracket: Backstrom's No-Look Pass to Oshie vs Vrana Speed

With less than a month before training camp opens in mid-September, we are taking one last look back at the 2018-19 season as we dive into the best goals of last year. We compiled our bracket based on the cumulative rankings of our Capitals team, from reporters to producers and everyone in between, and now is your turn to help us determine the best Capitals goal of 2018-19. Below is a Slack conversation between the members of our Capitals content team.

jmurph: Here we go, Day 2 of our Goals of the Year Bracket. Today we pit the backhand sauce of Nicklas Backstrom (and a nifty finish in tight quarters from TJ Oshie) with the blistering speed of Jakub Vrana on a breakaway against the Rangers. Both goals from November, what jumps out to you right off the bat?

JJ Regan: I will be playing the role of Rob Carlin today because I know the Oshie goal is amazing, but I love, LOVE that Vrana goal.

He starts from behind the defenseman, beats him to the puck and takes it alone on net and finishes the play.

bmcnally: I LOVE that Jakub Vrana goal. He might be the only guy on the roster with the speed to take advantage of an opponents' mistake like that. Maybe Carl Hagelin can still do that, too. But just a great all around play and a filthy finish. You can virtually see the afterburners as he pulls away

Rob Carlin: The Oshie goal is everything the Caps are all about. Great teamwork, Backstrom wizardry & and a snipe of a finish. That puck was passed around 5 times just that we see in the video. There’s no Cinderella today. It’s Osh

bmcnally: I'm #TeamRob today. As much as I love the pure speed of Vrana, the hockey sense on the Backstrom pass is from another planet.

jmurph: I have to agree with Rob, the Vrana goal is a great individual effort, but the team effort on the Oshie goal, add in a little sauce, that takes the cake for me

Rob Carlin: Don’t get me wrong. Vrana’s goal is sick. Great wheels. Nice finish. But, c’mon

JJ Regan: Backstrom would make one heck of a quarterback. When you watch the play he does not look behind him, he sees Oshie making a break and just anticipates where he is going to be perfectly.

Rob Carlin: I don’t say this often — but JJ is right!

timmcdonough: Initially ranked Oshie very high - on a rewatch back-to-back the Vrana goal jumps off the page more than I thought it would...

jmurph: And unlike yesterday's #1 goal, the Oshie goal is just as good as the play leading up to it

JJ Regan: It shows you how amazing these 16 goals are that Vrana's can rank No. 15. I love that goal, but it is tough to argue with a no-look behind pass.

timmcdonough: It's crazy how easy Backstrom makes that pass look

Rob Carlin: I think we’re done here. It’s the Oshie goal. Sorry Ya-koob

bmcnally: Let's give some love for the keep in by Oshie, too. That all around play is incredible. Then to go hard to the net assuming Backstrom would find him

jmurph: Somewhere Joe B is sadly muttering JAY-COB VRAH-NA to himself repeatedly

Rob Carlin: Bigger question — Ovi’s one-timer or Vrana goal? Which advances from the play-in game?

JJ Regan: Oh, the NIT of Caps' goals!

jmurph: Well we do have another Vrana goal coming up (teaser alert) so I'm going Ovi one-timer

bmcnally: I'll say Vrana wins the banner no one really wants at MSG. Since that's where he scored the goal anyway

jmurph: With that, we've come to a unanimous decision, Vrana's goal was great, but Backy and Osh are moving on. 

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