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End of season review: Michael Latta

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End of season review: Michael Latta

Throughout the coming weeks, CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Michael Latta

Position: Center

Shoots: Right

Age: 24 [turns 25 May 25]

Ht/Wt: 6-0, 209

Games: 53

Goals: 0

Assists: 6

Points: 6

Penalty minutes: 68

Plus-Minus: Plus-4

Average Ice Time: 8:22

Playoff games: 4

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

Points: 0

Penalty minutes: 2

Plus-Minus: Minus-1

Average Ice Time: 6:56

Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 2-year, $1.15 million contract [2015-16 salary: $575,000; cap hit: $575,000]

Strengths: At 6-foot, 210 pounds Latta is more than willing to take on bigger opponents, especially when defending his teammates. He dropped the gloves eight times this season, including a bout with 6-foot-3 enforcer Jared Boll of the Columbus Blue Jackets. After a season of bouncing between the AHL Bears and the Caps, Latta stayed with Washington the entire season and provided plenty of energy, if not much offense, to the fourth line. His average ice time [8:22] was lowest on the team among players who spent the entire season with the Caps. In that limited time he managed to deliver 91 hits.

Room for improvement: Latta was one of only two players [Brooks Orpik was the other] who spent the entire season with the Caps without scoring a goal. It was the first time in his career that has happened for Latta, who generated just 24 shots in 53 games, an average of just 0.5 shots per game. Latta also saw just 5:36 of shorthanded ice time this season, an average of just 6 seconds a game.  Including the playoffs Latta was a healthy scratch 33 times this season. With the return of UFA centers Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr in question, Latta said he’s ready for a bigger role next season, including time on the penalty kill.  “Getting scratched in Game 7 of the first series [against the Islanders] was tough,” Latta said. “Next season I want to put myself in a position to not even be a thought to be scratched in an important game in the year.”

Memorable Moment: On March 3, in a very physical game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Latta quickly rushed to the defense of his linemate and roommate Tom Wilson when he went after Blue Jackets defenseman Justin Falk after Falk knocked Wilson’s helmet off with a big check along the boards. Latta suffered an upper body injury in the fight and missed the next six games.

Quotable: “I’ve got to work on my foot speed work on my overall game and hopefully next year I won’t be a rookie anymore and [Barry] Trotz will give me a little more trust out there, a few more minutes to prove myself. I need to be  more of  a difference-maker every night. Offensively, I had a lot of good looks and good chances but didn’t put up enough points.” – Latta on breakup day

2015-16 Expectations: If the Caps are unable to sign both Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr, look for Latta to return as the Caps’ fourth-line center, where he should be given more ice time as a penalty killer. If the Caps are able to sign both Beagle and Fehr, Latta’s role may be very similar to what it was this season. If not, he could be an energy player who averages 10-12 minutes a night. But he’ll need to produce more offense to earn that ice time.

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”

MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE:

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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

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Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!

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