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Who's hot and who's not?: Holtby is rediscovering his Vezina winning form

Who's hot and who's not?: Holtby is rediscovering his Vezina winning form

Once a week this season, we're taking a closer look at the numbers and pointing out a few trends that every Capitals fan should know about.

RELATED: Prediction recap: Caps dominate Tampa from start to finish

HOT

Braden Holtby

-- After Friday’s 4-0 blanking of the Bolts, Holtby now has three shutouts this season, including two in his last five starts. Only Devan Dubnyk (5), Tuukka Rask (4) and Peter Budaj (4) have more. Since the 2012-13 season, Holtby has 23 shutouts, which is tied with Rask for the most shutouts during that timeframe. (Carey Price is second with 22.) In his last eight starts, Holtby is 5-1-2 with a .949 save percentage and 1.47 goals against average.  

Dmitry Orlov

-- Orlov made the highlights Friday night for his aerial set-up pass to Alex Ovechkin against the Lightning. But he’s actually been setting up goals with regularity for a while now. In fact, the 25-year-old defenseman has seven assists in the last nine games, putting him on pace for a career-best 33 helpers. Seems the defensive pair tweaks are working out for everyone involved, huh?

Nicklas Backstrom

-- With a pair of assists against Tampa, Backstrom now needs just three to become the 10th Swede to record 500 assists for his career. The 10th year veteran has eight points (two goals, six assists) in the last eight games and 18 points in the last 20. Backstrom leads the Caps with 29 points; Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson are second with 24.

Penalty kill

-- The Caps have faced five shorthanded situations the past two games…and did not yield a shot on goal on any of them. Over the past six games, the penalty kill has allowed just one goal. As a result, the unit is up to sixth in the NHL at 84.8-percent after scuffling near the bottom of the league for a time earlier this season.

 

NOT

The Caps’ upcoming schedule

-- The players and coaches had better enjoy this three-day break (and manage to get some rest, too). Because it’s going to be crazy on the other side of it. The Caps return to action Tuesday in Brooklyn…and then it’s a full out sprint for three weeks, with a game scheduled every other day for 21 straight days.

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s faceoffs

-- Kuznetsov has never been particularly strong on faceoffs. In recent games, though, he’s struggled more than usual. In fact, he’s won fewer than 40-percent of his draws in six straight games, including just 27.3-percent (3 of 11) vs. the Lightning. That marked his third-lowest percentage of the season. Overall, he’s fourth among the Caps’ full-time centers at 41.4-percent. 

The Caps' record in shootouts

--After Wednesday's 3-2 loss in Philly, the Caps fell to 1-3 in games decided by shootout this season. Considering how tight the playoff race figures to remain down the stretch, every point matters. As a result, the Caps have dedicated a little more time in practice to shootout drills. Will it pay off? (I'll have a little more on this next week.)   

MORE CAPITALS: Carlson and the Caps' D are starting to 'heat up' offensively 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

Less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup, the Caps are in need of a new head coach.

Barry Trotz resigned as the Caps coach on Monday after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. How did we get here and where do both parties go from here? JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break it all down.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

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USA TODAY Sports

7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

For now, Todd Reirden appears to be the frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.

But who is he? 

Here are some things to know about the Capitals head coaching candidate:

1. Reirden spent the last four seasons with Washington on Barry Trotz's staff

Should Reirden be hired, he would bring a measure of familiarity with him few teams get after a coaching change. Reirden was hired by Trotz in 2014 when Trotz was putting together his staff. He was brought in to coach the team's defense and immediately improved the blue line.

In the year prior to Reirden's hiring, the Caps allowed 2.74 goals per game, good for only 21st in the NHL.

Here is what the defense has done in Reirden's four years in charge of the defense:

2014-15: 2.43 goals against per game, 7th in the NHL
2015-16: 2.33 goals against per game, 2nd in the NHL
2016-17: 2.16 goals against per game, 1st in the NHL
2017-18: 2.90 goals against per game, 16th in the NHL

In those four seasons combined, Washington allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than every team in the NHL but one. He was also in charge of the team's lethal power play.

2. Reirden has been a head coach before

While he may never have been a head coach in the NHL, Reirden does have some head coaching experience.

Reirden was promoted to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted to head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While head coach, Reirden led the team to a 55-43-8 record.

3. Reirden came to Washington from the Penguins

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate and took over as head coach later that season. He joined the Penguins' playoff staff during the 2009 Cup run. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach under with the NHL team under Bylsma in 2010 and was there for four years until Byslma was fired. Reirden was not initially fired, but was allowed to seek other opportunities. When he was officially fired, the Capitals hired him the same day.

4. Reirden had a lot to do with Matt Niskanen signing with the Caps

Reirden was hired by the Caps on June 25, 2014. On July 1, Matt Niskanen signed with Washington.

Reirden and Niskanen developed a strong relationship while in Pittsburgh. Niskanen dealt with confidence issues after getting traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Reirden's tutelage, Niskanen developed into a top-pair defenseman. Niskanen's agent said at the time it was "no secret" that Reirden and Niskanen had bonded while both were in Pittsburgh.

Brooks Orpik also signed with the Caps as a free agent that year, the second defenseman from Pittsburgh to sign in Washington showing the level of respect they felt for Reirden.

5. Reirden nearly became the head coach of Calgary

Reirden interviewed for the head coaching job in Calgary in 2016 and was considered a finalist for the position before eventually losing out Glen Gulutzan.

Gulutzan was fired by Calgary after the 2017-18 season and is now an assistant coach in Edmonton while Reirden is the frontrunner to become the head coach for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sounds like things worked out for Reirden.

6. The Caps have been grooming Reirden to be a head coach

Reirden was promoted to associate coach in August 2016 after Calgary had passed on him. Since then, the Caps have not allowed him to interview with other teams for head coaching positions. The implication was clear, this was someone the team wanted to keep.

"You know I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or someone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan Monday.

7. Reiden played in 183 career NHL games

Reirden was a defenseman drafted in the 12th round by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. After playing four years at Bowling Green, Reirden went pro with several seasons in the ECHL, IHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1998-99 season. Reirden would also play with the St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes. 

For his NHL career, Reirden scored 11 goals and 46 points in 183 games.

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