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MacLellan on making major changes to Caps: 'I don't know that that makes sense'

MacLellan on making major changes to Caps: 'I don't know that that makes sense'

After another second round playoff exit, just about everyone has an opinion on what direction he Caps should take this offseason. The one opinion that matters more than any other, however, is the man in charge of making those decisions, general manager Brian MacLellan. And, well, it doesn't sound as if he has quite made up his mind yet.

“I don't know that I have conclusions,” MacLellan told reporters Tuesday in his end of season availability. “I spent a lot of time interviewing players and coaches and then I talked to [team president Dick Patrick] and [owner Ted Leonsis] a lot. I don't have any obvious conclusions or specific issues to address. There's some internal stuff that we probably need to address to make things better going forward. … For me, for trying to address issues or problems that we might have, I don't know that any one  thing stood out to be able to say, 'This is the one thing that we need to fix right now to get to that next level.'”

Without something clear to fix, that makes the process of putting a team together for next season more difficult.

RELATED: MacLellan says no deal is imminent with Oshie

But while MacLellan was not sure exactly what needed fixing, he did say he was not expecting to blow up the roster or make any major changes.

“I think it’s tough to make a major change…I think it’s a lot easier to make this team worse than it is better,” MacLellan said. “If you make a major change, what’s it going to involve? Trading a franchise player, blowing the whole thing up? I don’t know that that makes sense.”

For a team that has won the Presidents’ Trophy in each of the last two seasons, you can understand why he would be reluctant to make such sweeping changes. Yet, Washington has failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs since 1998. After a two-year self-imposed championship window in which the team ultimately has nothing to show for it, changes still need to be made.

MacLellan indicated that most changes would be internal rather than major roster changes, but even if he is loath to shake things up, he did acknowledge that the choice was not entirely up to him. The Caps were right up against the salary cap this past season and with restricted free agents Philipp Grubauer, Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky all in need of new deals, the Caps may be forced to watch unrestricted free agents T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, Daniel Winnik and Kevin Shattenkirk leave for new teams.

“It’s going to be hard to bring all the free agents back,” MacLellan said. “We’re going to be getting younger, our prospects are developing and they’re going to take a bigger role. It’s just going to be a different feel to it.”

Ultimately what that will mean is that the Caps will take a step back in the upcoming season. The roster in 2016-17 was just too good and too expensive to replicate for another year. But just how big of a step back will that be?

“I don't know we'll be at this level,” MacLellan said referring to this season’s roster. “I mean, we'll be competitive. … I think we're going to be a good team still.”

MORE CAPITALS: MacLellan, Trotz take different view on Caps' postseason history

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T.J. Oshie skates with military families as part of Courage Caps initiative

T.J. Oshie skates with military families as part of Courage Caps initiative

Capitals winger T.J. Oshie and his teammates hosted an event supporting the TAPS program, which helps military families who have lost a loved one in service to their country 

The Capitals hosted an afternoon skate on Thursday for dozens of military family members who have lost a loved one during their service. 

Oshie and teammates Garnet Hathaway and Nick Jensen were on the ice at MedStar Iceplex in Arlington. They skated. They took pictures. They signed autographs. It was all part of an annual Courage Caps event for members of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). 

That organization has helped support over 90,000 families of fallen military heroes with grief and trauma resources, emotional support, camps for children and seminars and retreats for adults struggling with loss.

Sale of Courage Caps t-shirts and caps have helped bring in almost $1 million since 2011. The merchandise will be available at the organization’s team stores at Capital One Arena and MedStar Iceplex all November. The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) is a supporting partner. 

Families not only interacted with Oshie, Hathaway and Jensen on the ice. Captain, the Capitals’ service dog in training, made an appearance along with mascot Slapshot and members of the ALL CAPS crew.

Oshie raced two boys and appeared to lose to the smaller of them just as they crossed center ice, laughing all the way. Jensen helped another novice skater by escorting her around the ice. Afterward, the Capitals and Papa John’s hosted a pizza party for the families.

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Capitals vs. Canadiens Game 21: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Capitals vs. Canadiens Game 21: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Winning seven of their last eight games, the Washington Capitals haven't suffered a regulation loss in an entire month, thus steamrolling the NHL and looking to continue a 13-game point streak. After narrowly escaping the Flyers with a shootout win, Washington is poised to face Montreal, not too far behind them in scoring prowess.

The Canadiens are scoring an average of 3.44 goals per game so far this season, compared to the Capitals notching 3.85 per outing. Montreal sits right behind Boston at second in the Atlantic Division, and the Canadiens even beat the Bruins as recently as November 5. They're 4-5 on the road, eager to bolster their presence outside the Bell Centre with another hefty W in the American capital.

Most recently, Montreal placed Jesperi Kotkaniemi on injured reserve Nov. 1 due to a groin injury, missing six straight games since then. He practiced Nov. 13 and has not been cleared to play against the Capitals yet. Here is everything else you need to know in order to tune in to the much anticipated matchup. 

CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME 21: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Friday, November 15, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-CANADIENS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: NHL: Montreal Canadiens @ Capitals
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: DC Sports Live
10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

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