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As Ovechkin slumps again, Trotz gives him familiar advice

As Ovechkin slumps again, Trotz gives him familiar advice

After taking a closer look at Alex Ovechkin’s recent struggles, Barry Trotz said he’s come to a couple of conclusions: the Caps’ captain has played solidly without the puck but he also needs to put more pucks on net.     

“We did some stat stuff on him and I thought he’s playing really well,” Trotz said after the morning skate on Tuesday.

“You can tell by the way he’s skating. We do chances for and against—and who’s causing the chances against. When you’re cheating, those are one sided on the wrong side because you’re trying to do something on the other side.”

The coach added: “He hasn’t done that.”

But Ovechkin hasn’t been scoring, either. And that’s becoming an issue for the skidding Caps, who are mired in a rare four-game losing streak and have averaged 2.2 goals per game since returning from the six-day bye week 12 games ago.

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Consider:

-- Ovechkin’s 10-game drought is the longest of his 12-year NHL career.

-- He has two goals in the last 17 games.

-- No. 8’s last 5-on-5 goal came Jan. 26, or 20 games ago.

-- The 31-year-old has just two points in the last nine games, a primary assist vs. Anaheim and a secondary assist on the power play vs. Philly.

-- In the last 14 contests, three times Ovechkin did not record a shot on goal. That’s only happened nine times in his 907 career games. Additionally, he’s currently on pace for 304 shots. He averaged 393 shots per season the previous three years.

Asked what his message to Ovechkin has been, Trotz said he’s told the six-time goal scoring champion that he needs to get back to doing what he does best: hammer more one-timers. And be more accurate with all of his shots.  

“He’s not quite shooting enough of those one-timers when he gets an opportunity,” Trotz said. “They’re just not sitting flat for him right now. And he’s just missing the net a little bit. If he starts shooting a little bit more off that one timer and hitting the net a little bit more they’re going to go in, no question. His work ethic, his skating and all that, it’s all there. It’s just got to happen for him. You can’t get frustrated and cheat in other areas. He’s not doing that, which is a good sign.”

It's similar to the advice Trotz gave Ovechkin two weeks ago when Ovechkin failed to register a shot in two of four games

Ovechkin said he agrees with Trotz’s assessment.

“I just have to shoot the puck more,” Ovechkin said. “That’s the key to success.”

Ovechkin also insisted that he’s not frustrated and hinted that he’s more concerned about his team’s four-game losing streak rather than his personal stats.

“I don’t get frustrated or something,” Ovechkin said. “Right now we have more thoughts about how we have to win a game and bounce back and be in first position.”

Want more Capitals coverage? Be sure to follow CSN's Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan on Twitter, as wel as the CSN Capitals account. Listen to the latest Capitals Faceoff Podcast below.

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

On Friday, the Capitals shipped out Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to clear space on the salary cap for John Carlson's massive contract extension.

On Sunday night, Carlson signed on the dotted the line. 

The 28-year-old became the latest core Cap to sign a long-term deal, inking an eight-year extension that will carry an $8 million average salary. 

His cap hit is now the second highest on the team—behind Ovechkin’s $9.538 million charge and just ahead of Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million hit.

With Carlson locked up, the defending Stanley Cup champion now has the majority of its core signed through at least the 2019-20 season. Among the players with at least two years remaining on their deals are forwards Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nickas Backstrom and Lars Eller, defensemen Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Braden Holtby.

The Carlson news did not come as a surprise.

The Caps wanted to keep him. Carlson, who makes his offseason home in Washington, wanted to stay with the club that drafted him 27th overall in 2008. And on Friday night in Dallas, GM Brian MacLellan all but guaranteed that a deal was going to happen when he said, “We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

It ended up taking a little more than 24 hours, but in the end MacLellan got his D-man.

“John has been an exceptional and consistent player for our franchise and has blossomed into being one of the top defensemen in the NHL,” said MacLellan in a statement on Sunday. “Defenseman like John are a rare commodity in our League and, at 28 years of age, we feel he is just entering his prime.”

Indeed, Carlson notched a career-high 15 goals and 53 assists last season, and his 68 points led all NHL defensemen. He also became the eighth defensemen in Caps’ history to record 60 points in a season and the first since Mike Green accomplished the feat in 2009-10. Meanwhile, Carlson’s average ice time (24:47) also marked a career high.

“As a right-handed defenseman, John plays in all key situations and has contributed greatly to our team’s success on the special teams,” MacLellan added. “We are pleased for both parties to have come to an agreement and for him to continue his great career as a Washington Capital.”

With Carlson under contract, the Caps now have a little more than $13 million in cap space underneath the $79.5 million ceiling, according to www.capfiendly.com. Michal Kempny, Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson and Jakub Jerabek are all unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

Carlson’s also signing kicks off a big week for MacLellan.

In addition to negotiating with the free agents he hopes to retain, he’s expected to have a formal interview with associate coach Todd Reirden, who is the leading candidate to replace Barry Trotz as head coach.

So buckle up, there figure to be a few more important announcements in the coming days.

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

Free agency does not start until July 1, but John Carlson's agent is already taking calls from other interested teams.

The interview period began at 12 a.m. on Sunday morning, which means teams are now able to reach out to any potential free agents, but no contracts can be signed until July 1. While Brian MacLellan said Friday that a new deal with Carlson to keep him in Washington was "really close," Carlson's agent, Rick Curran, has made it clear there was no deal in place yet as of Sunday.

So does this mean Carlson now has one foot out the door?

Not necessarily.

At this point in the negotiation, Carlson has a major advantage and that advantage is time. Sunday's interview period is just another way to hold the Caps' feet to the fire. The closer we get to July 1, the more pressure the team is under to get a deal done.

But the Caps still have some leverage too.

“I love it here and all that,” Carlson said during on breakdown day. “I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that.”

By rule, as his current team, the Caps are the only team that can offer Carlson an eight-year deal.

So Carlson may have turned up the heat a few degrees on the Caps, but it's not time for fans to worry just yet.

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