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Caps rookie Jakub Vrana headed to bench for first time vs. Devils, but why?

Caps rookie Jakub Vrana headed to bench for first time vs. Devils, but why?

ARLINGTON—Jakub Vrana will be a healthy scratch tonight vs. the visiting Devils, Coach Barry Trotz confirmed after the morning skate.

It’ll mark the first time since the rookie was recalled late last month—a span of 12 games—that he’ll sit.

“It’s a young [player’s] process,” said Vrana, who has not recorded a point in five games.

“It’s how it is sometimes. I’m staying positive. I’m looking forward, [will] work hard and just control what I can control and try to get back in the lineup.”

Trotz’s decision to scratch Vrana should not come as a major shock. Early in his stint, the 20-year-old injected some speed and offense into a lineup that was in need of both. Then the production started to come as he scored a goal and notched two assists during a three-game stretch.

PROSPECT REPORT: Swiss prospects impessing at World Juniors

Lately, though, Trotz has hinted that Vrana may have hit the proverbial rookie wall. During the five-game points drought, he also went two games without a shot on goal.

And with the Caps dropping three of their last four games (1-2-1), Trotz felt like it was time for a change.

It appears that veteran Brett Connolly will replace Vrana on the Lars Eller line, though the team did not do line rushes during the optional morning skate. 

Asked if Vrana could be sent to Hershey, Trotz said a decision on his immediate status has not been made.

“We’ll consider all the options,” he said. “We’re going to do what’s best for the player. We’re not in a development league, we’re in a winning league. We’ve got to balance that and that’s what we’re going to do—whatever is best for his development and us winning, we’ll do that balance.”

“It’s one game,” Trotz said, “we’ll see where it goes after tonight.”

As for Vrana, he sounded like a young player who understands the decision but is also determined to fight his way back into the lineup.

“We have a great team,” he said.

“Many, many great players here. And when you’re cold [for a] few games you might need a reset, get back on the track and wait for [when] the opportunity comes again. That’s what I’m doing right now, staying positive, seeing how it’s going to go and trying to get my spot in the lineup back.”

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Alex Ovechkin on goal 700: 'Without my teammates I couldn't do it.'

Alex Ovechkin on goal 700: 'Without my teammates I couldn't do it.'

While scoring goals can often be looked at as an individual achievement, Alex Ovechkin made sure to credit his teammates for the success he's had as one of the all-time best goal scorers in NHL history.

"All of my teammates over the years have treated me like family," Ovechkin said while reflecting on goal 700. "Without them, I would never be able to reach this milestone." 

Ovi finally eclipsed the 700 goal mark in the Capitals' 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon.

"Seven hundred means a lot to me," Ovechkin said. "Not a lot of players have done it in the history of the game so it's nice to be in that company." 

Ovechkin was certainly grateful for the achievement, but the fact of the matter is that this Capitals team has dropped eight of their last 11 games. An ecstatic Ovi is the one who wins games, not just scores goals. 

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Twitter reacts to Alex Ovechkin tallying his 700th career goal

Twitter reacts to Alex Ovechkin tallying his 700th career goal

With 4:50 remaining in the third period of the Capitals' loss to the Devils, Alex Ovechkin became the eighth player in NHL history to reach 700 goals. Deservingly so, Twitter exploded into an absolute moshpit of excitement and appreciation for Ovi's milestone:

As you can hear in these clips the crowd at Prudential Center broke out into soccer-style Ovi chants.


The Devils' crowd gave Ovechkin a standing ovation, the atmosphere after goal 700 was electric. 

This should go without saying but Caps Prom was lit for Ovi's 700th. Manifestation is key.

Now that the weight of 700 is seemingly in the rearview mirror hopefully, the Caps can get back to their winning ways. 

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