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With penalties on the rise, Barry Trotz has begun to take action

With penalties on the rise, Barry Trotz has begun to take action

On at least two occasions during Thursday’s practice, T.J. Oshie skated laps around Kettler Capitals Iceplex as his teammates looked on.

It was a dose of public punishment, doled out by coach Barry Trotz, for Oshie’s trio of penalties in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the Penguins.

The infractions were for slashing (two) and holding, and the total represented a season-high for the first-line right wing.  

“Apparently you’re not supposed to take three,” Oshie cracked. “It's been a lot of stick penalties. For me, I was caught in a couple of bad positions, and on two of them I felt like they were going to get a quality chance, so I had to make a play on it.”

Explained Trotz: “It’s a reminder. Sometimes a visual is better than just talking about it. He hasn’t had a lot of penalties in a while but he stacked them up last night. …You’re going to get penalties in this game. I’m not going to skate every guy for every penalty. But when you get a couple or multiple ones, [you might] need a little reminder. It’s a visual for guys like okay, ‘Why is Osh skating?’ It’s a reminder without hurting anybody.”

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In all, the Caps were whistled for seven minor penalties against the Penguins. It probably wouldn’t have been a topic of discussion on Thursday had the rash been an aberration. But it wasn't. It’s become a trend for a Caps’ team that is managing to win despite the growing problem thanks to the league’s third-ranked penalty kill as well as goaltender Braden Holtby’s stellar play as of late.

During the Caps’ seven game winning streak, in fact, they’ve taken more minor penalties than their opponent in each of those contests. They’ve also taken more minors (41, including a couple of bench minors) than any other team during that time frame.

That's probably not sustainable—and Trotz and his players know it.

“[Trotz] can handle the fighting majors and the sticking-up-for-teammates penalties,” winger Brett Connolly said. “It’s the hooking and holding and the penalties when you’re not moving your feet. The penalties in the offensive zone.”

In addition to making players do laps, Trotz has also talked to his team about staying composed when dealing with referees, whether or not they feel the call is justified. Why? Refs are humans, too, and being disrespectful rarely helps matters.

“Last week it was me,” Justin Williams said, referring to taking laps. “I took quite a few [penalties], so I had to do a little bit of skating. T.J. did a little bit of skating today. We have to be accountable for what we do out there, regardless of whether we agree with the calls. I know our bench has gotten a lot better and a lot more calm in the last couple of weeks.”

Williams, who is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the most minors on the Caps (16), added: “Sometimes you’re just better off just going to the box. They’re not going to rescind your penalty. If you’re calm and you’re courteous and respectful of the officials, maybe you’ll get a break later in the game or maybe they might not call a coincidental minor. We’ll feel we’re a much better team 5-on-5,” anyway.

Connolly concurred with Williams’ assessment.

“Those refs take a lot of grief,” he said. “If you’re yelling at them all game, they are going to remember that in the third period. And you might not get a call late in the game when you really need it. Ovi and [Nicklas Backstrom] and our leaders, they can talk to the refs. It’s not really going to change anything if we’re yelling at the refs. They make the call, just go to the box.”

It may not be known for weeks whether skating laps and/or being calmer in their dealings with officials makes a difference for the Caps. But as other parts of the team’s game are starting to come together, players know it’s time to start being more disciplined, too.

“He’s just trying to prove a point,” Connolly said. “We know we can’t be taking penalties down the stretch and into the playoffs. Obviously our penalty kill has been really good, but we want to take some minutes off them. Those are hard minutes for those guys.”

“That,” Trotz added, “is a part of a game where we can still learn and still work on.”

MORE CAPITALS: PROSPECT REPORT - SAMSONOV'S STRONG PLAY LEADS RUSSIA TO BRONZE

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Capitals at Wild: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Wild: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Capitals head to the midwest this weekend to take on the Minnesota Wild. The Caps' offense struggled against the Jets on Thursday, but as new players continue to gel and with the celebration of Alex Ovechkin’s 700th goal behind them, all eyes will be on the Caps to see what they do next. 

Here is everything you need to know about the matchup on Sunday, which takes place at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.

CAPITALS VS. WILD GAME 65: HOW TO WATCH 

WHAT: Washington Capitals vs. Minnesota Wild

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota

When: Sunday, March 1, 7:00 E.T. 

TV Channel: The Capitals at Wild game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Wild on NBC Sports Washington's Live stream page and on the NBC Sports App

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at WILD: INJURY REPORT

Wild: Luke Kunin: Upper-body

Wild: Carson Soucy: Upper-body

CAPITALS vs. WILD TV SCHEDULE 

7:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

7:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

8:00 PM: Capitals vs. Jets (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live 

11:00 PM: Chasing Greatness

11:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS at WILD: PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (43-17-60): Fresh off the celebration of his 700th goal, everyone will be looking to Ovi to keep the energy going. 

Jared Spurgeon, D, Wild, (10-18-28): Since Jan. 18, Spurgeon has scored eight goals, the most among NHL defensemen. The Caps need to keep an eye on him, both the defense and offense. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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New Capital Brenden Dillon doesn't miss a beat during pregame handshakes

New Capital Brenden Dillon doesn't miss a beat during pregame handshakes

Prior to Thursday night's game against the Jets, the Capitals got ready by partaking in a pregame ritual of handshakes, and it seems new Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon already has it down.

The Capitals are already known for having an impressive number of pregame handshakes, but with the addition of Dillion at the trade deadline, it seems things have become even more complicated. 

In the video of a hallway at Winnipeg's stadium, Dillon is seen fist-bumping a few of his teammates, fixing his hair with Carl Hagelin, giving a little more intricate handshake to Tom Wilson and tapping sticks with Alex Ovechkin. 

While all of this is going on, more players in the back of the video start doing their own handshakes. Glad to see Dillon fitting in so well with his new teammates.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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