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MacLellan, Trotz take different view on the team's history of postseason struggles

MacLellan, Trotz take different view on the team's history of postseason struggles

Barry Trotz has made it clear he does not think the Washington Capitals’ history of playoff failures affects the mentality of the team. On Tuesday, general manager Brian MacLellan made it clear that he disagrees with the head coach’s assessment.

"I think that plays a big part in the pressure on our team,” MacLellan told reporters. “Your history's your history. Whether you come in here last year or at the deadline, you're going to feel it. I can feel it up in the box that past pressure manifests itself in the present day. To ignore it I think is a mistake.”

RELATED: After down year, Caps want to see Ovechkin adjust

Trotz raised eyebrows in the wake of the team’s Game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins when he said the players had all gotten past the team’s postseason history, even going so far as to call it a “joke.”

“I think it's so overworked by [the media] and everybody else that it's actually becoming a joke to the guys,” Trotz said at breakdown day, “Which is probably good because playoffs haven't been fun here and maybe having some fun and laughing at the past a little bit and looking in the face is probably something that might ease us in the future. But it's become more of a bad question by media now because guys are sort of chuckling about it all the time now.”

MacLellan wasn’t laughing on Tuesday.

“I think you've got to acknowledge it and then you've got to work through it,” MacLellan said to reporters. “Just to say it doesn't matter – because it pops up – and if you're not acknowledging it, you're not going to be able to get through it because you're ignoring it. I would say all the past history matters to us, and then you can feel it in the building. You feel it in the crowd. It's in there. You tell me in that Game 7 that you couldn't feel it.”

MacLellan even went so far as to say the history was no longer Washington’s history, but now after three years of disappointing postseason results, both he and Trotz were a part of that history.

“We lost a Game 7, we lost a Game 6 last year, I think we’re part of it as an organization,” he told Jill Sorenson in a one-on-one interview. “I think three years ago we started as a fresh group and the history’s your history. Now we’re involved in it. I think it’s important for us to acknowledge it, it’s important for us to work through it. I think once we bring it to our awareness as the players do and the coaches do, we’ll have a better chance of moving through it.”

The question now is how does the team move through it? Well, that can be a problem if the coach and general manager do not see eye to eye on the issue.

MacLellan said he has spoken to Trotz about their different outlooks regarding the team’s history saying, “He philosophically disagrees. We just have a different way of looking at it.”

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz, staff will return next season

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T.J. Oshie puts on a memorable performance in 300th game as a Capital

T.J. Oshie puts on a memorable performance in 300th game as a Capital

300 games. 108 goals. 108 assists.

Just so you're tracking, those are T.J. Oshie's stats through 300 games as a member of the Washington Capitals.

In an outstanding 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers, Oshie scored two power play goals. It was the second time in his career that Oshie recorded two such goals.

Another shot on goal — he had four in the game — would have put him at a nice-and-even 620 during his tenure with the Capitals, but hey, we can't all be perfect.

The statistical-evenness is certainly satisfying, but even if you're not a fan of quirky stats, the man has logged 216 points in 300 games. That's pretty darn good.

T.J. Oshie will seek to continue putting up great numbers as the Capitals embark on a two-week road trip. Their first stop will be Sunday in Chicago for a showdown against the Blackhawks.

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A return six months in the making for defenseman Michal Kempny

A return six months in the making for defenseman Michal Kempny

It took six months of toil and effort for Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny to make it back to an NHL game. 

He last played March 20 when a torn hamstring in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning ended his season just a few weeks before the Stanley Cup playoffs began. That was brutal. 

A spring to heal after surgery, a summer to rehab the injury and weeks getting back in hockey shape were the steep price paid. And then it took him all of 15 minutes to score his first goal on Friday in a game against the New York Rangers. Welcome back, Michal. 

“I felt pretty good, actually. My legs felt good,” Kempny said. “Obviously not an easy situation for me. But I got to say just thank you to all of the staff, whole organization, my teammates, my family, my friends who were supporting me all the way through here and help me. It means a lot to me.”

It was an organizational project. Kempny meant so much to Washington during its Stanley Cup run of 2018. The Capitals felt his absence on the top pair with John Carlson during the first-round series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Washington coach Todd Reirden credited team trainers Jason Servis and Mike Booi and strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish with putting Kempny in position to return early in the season.  

“Six months of investment of their time to get him back,” Reirden said. “I thought Michal looked really good.”

The goal came at 15:16 of the first period and gave Washington a 2-1 lead. Kempny jumped onto a loose pucked batted around by teammate Alex Ovechkin, quickly corralled it and beat Henrik Lundqvist for the goal. It was a pretty play and another indication that Capitals' defensemen are taking chances when they see them on the offensive end. 

In his first game back, Kempny had 14:24 of ice time. That’s about the goal the Capitals had in mind for him. He started on the third pair with fellow Czech Radko Gudas, but also played 3:42 with Carlson, who mobbed Kempny after his goal and gave him a celebratory facewash with his glove. They’re happy to have him back. 

“I just grab the puck and there was open net, so a little lucky for me,” Kempny said. “I was just excited.”

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