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Latta looks to make his mark as Trotz shuffles fourth line


Latta looks to make his mark as Trotz shuffles fourth line

After a crushing loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday, you may have been expecting big changes to the lineup. Instead, the only change at Thursday's morning skate came on the fourth line where Michael Latta was at center.

Head coach Barry Trotz said after the skate the change was based on the team's opponent Thursday, the Boston Bruins.

"Playing a little heavier team I think tonight," Trotz said.

"Big bad Boston Bruins, right?" Latta said.

The last time the Caps and Bruins met was on Oct. 2 in a preseason matchup that saw eight fighting majors doled out, four to each team. Granted, more fighting is expected in the preseason, but it highlights the physical nature the Caps are expecting to see from Boston.

Though Trotz stressed Chandler Stephenson has played well, it's no surprise to see the more physical Latta centering the fourth for Thursday's game.

"I think where he can be really useful is he brings an element, that sort of 'get under your skin,'" Trotz said.

RELATED: Prospect Report: Production from the blue line

Latta has struggled to stay in the lineup this season or even stay on the ice. He has played in only three of the team's 11 games and saw less than four minutes of ice time in his last appearance.

"You can only do so much as you're given," Latta said. "I thought I played well so that's a tiny, tiny positive for me."

Despite the lack of ice time, Trotz told reporters he is trying to make Latta a "utility" player so that he can stay in the lineup.

"If he can play multiple positions that's really easy to have in your lineup and then that probably helps you stay in the lineup too knowing that you don't have to take people out because someone could slide into center or to wing."

"All you can do is build trust one minute at a time, every shift at a time," Latta said, "So that's when you got to just bear down and not give him an excuse to take you out."

Lines at morning skate:

Ovechkin - Kuznetsov - Oshie

Johansson - Backstrom - Williams

Chimera - Beagle - Burakovsky

Laich - Latta - Wilson

Orpik - Carlson

Alzner - Niskanen

Orlov - Schmidt

Braden Holtby was first off the ice.

Extras: Taylor Chorney, Stanislav Galiev, Chris Brown and Chandler Stephenson

MORE CAPITALS: Report: Team Canada to name Trotz to coaching staff

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 


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Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

The odds have never gone the way of the Washington Capitals.

After years of being the common pick to finally break through and win the Stanley Cup, this was most definitely not the year.

Yet, here we are with the Capitals as one of the final two teams standing.

For their upcoming Stanley Cup Final, the Caps are the underdogs against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  The opening line from OddsShark has the Golden Knights as -135 money line favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals were listed as +115 underdogs.

Vegas (the betting entity, not the team) has not exactly been the most reliable this year though. After all, the Golden Knights were 100/1 odds to win the whole thing. Now they are four games away.

In their past two series, Washington was not the favorites. The Capitals have not been favorites since the First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For years in the Alex Ovechkin era, they have been the favorites to not only go on to play for the Stanley Cup but winning it.

In 2018 they started the season tied for the fifth best odds to win the Cup (14/1), one of their lowest opening marks in the past decade. For the full perspective, Washington was tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and behind the Dallas Stars at the start of the season.

Without question this underdog role has fit them quite well, they shouldn’t want anything to change heading into the biggest postseason series in 20 years for Washington D.C.