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Oshie, Carlson endorse hiring of Tortorella


Oshie, Carlson endorse hiring of Tortorella

It remains to be seen whether Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie and defenseman John Carlson will be named to Team USA for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, but both approved of the hiring of John Tortorella as the team’s head coach late Monday night.

“Maybe he does have a reputation for yelling or do this or that,” Carlson said. “But at the end of the day he’s had success and he’s been around long enough that he demands that respect and he deserves it for what he’s done.”
Tortorella, a 57-year-old Boston native, is the winningest American-born coach in NHL history with 446 victories, nine more than Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette. Tortorella won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 and also coached the Rangers and Canucks.

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“I don’t know him personally,” said Oshie, who teamed up with Carlson and Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik on Team USA for the 2014 Winter Olympics under Dan Bylsma. “He’s never coached me before, but obviously he’s proven he can win games and I think it’s great.”

The World Cup is scheduled to begin on Sept. 17 and can end no later than Oct. 1, with all games being played in Toronto. Team USA will be grouped with Canada, the Czech Republic and Team Europe and Oshie said it will be up to the players to unite quickly for the tournament.

“I think when you have the right personalities in the locker room it goes a lot quicker,” Oshie said. “And from what I hear Torts gets his guys in shape pretty quick as far as what he expects of them. I don’t think it should be too hard.”

The U.S. won the event in its inaugural year of 1996 in Philadelphia.

Carlson said his No. 1 priority this season is playing well for the Capitals, and if that means a Team USA selection in March, he’ll take it.

“I plan on going out there and playing as hard as I can for this team, the Capitals, and if I play well and make my team better and make myself better it gives me a better chance,” Carlson said.

Oshie said that if he makes the U.S. team it will mean for as shorter summer and more attention to offseason training.

“It is a good time of the year because guys can still enjoy their summers, they just have to be ready to go little quicker,” Oshie said. “I think it’s going to be great for hockey and fun for whoever’s on the team.”

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Capitals are sticking with Chandler Stephenson on the top line… for now


Capitals are sticking with Chandler Stephenson on the top line… for now

With Tom Wilson still serving a 20-game suspension, Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden has the difficult task of finding a wing to complement his top line of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. For the first four games of the season, that player was Brett Connolly.

On Saturday, however, he changed things up and went with Chandler Stephenson instead.

Just 18 seconds into the game, Stephenson made his head coach look very smart as he finished off a 2-on-1 with Kuznetsov to score his first goal of the season.

“Obviously, the start was great,” Reirden said after the game.

Stephenson is an incredibly fast skater and the extra speed seemed to add another dimension to that line that opponents had to contend with, and it led to both of the Caps’ goals on the night.

In addition to Stephenson’s goal, Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty in the second period, and Washington scored on the resulting power play.

“Those guys are a lot of fun to play with,” Stephenson said. “They just know where to be and can find each other. I've just got to get the puck to them and just go to the net with your stick on the ice, and they'll find you.”

The top line’s success was a matter of finding instant chemistry as Stephenson had very little time to adjust. The Caps were off on Friday following back-to-back games, and Reirden did not make the switch of putting Stephenson on the top until Saturday’s morning skate.

Putting a new top line together with little time to practice does not seem like an ideal scenario, but according to Kuznetsov, the level of familiarity between all the players made the adjustment quick and easy.

“It doesn't matter with who you play,” he said. “In this locker room, we can communicate with anybody. We don't have a first line, we don't have a fourth line. We try and roll all lines.”

Reirden seemed pleased with the new trio after the game saying, “They did a number of good things during the game as well, so they I thought accomplished a lot. I thought [Stephenson] brought the speed on the forecheck and was able to at least go after their defense a little bit and force some turnovers that Kuznetsov and [Ovechkin] were able to at least get some opportunities from. So I think that's important to have him in that situation.”

Reirden was happy enough with the top line’s performance to keep them together. The team is off Monday, but Stephenson remained on the top line during Sunday’s practice.

But so long as Wilson remains out, finding the right match for the top line will remain a work in progress.

Said Reirden, “We’ll continue to try to put together our four lines that give us the best chance.”


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NHL Power Rankings: Not every night is a big-time game for the Capitals

NHL Power Rankings: Not every night is a big-time game for the Capitals

There was a lot of excitement to start the season for the Caps. First, there was the home-opener and the banner raising against the Boston Bruins. Then there was a trip to Pittsburgh to take on the rival Penguins. After that, it was a Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Vegas Golden Knights.

And all of that was followed up with a trip to Newark.


With all due respect to New Jersey, given the slate the Caps faced to start the season, it was no real surprise to see the team struggle to get up for Thursday’s game against the Devils, a game in which the Caps were blown out 6-0. Of all the games Washington faced to start the season, the trip to New Jersey was definitely the least exciting.

But not every game is going to be a big rivalry matchup or a playoff rematch. With every team gunning for the Caps, they better make sure they can get themselves ready for the grind of an 82-game season that won’t always feature a big-time matchup.

A trip to Newark may not be flashy or exciting, but it still counts as two points.

The Caps dropped the game in New Jersey and lost a tight contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Where do they stand now after two straight losses?