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Barry Trotz says Kevin Shattenkirk's play is 'mooring' Caps' third pair

Barry Trotz says Kevin Shattenkirk's play is 'mooring' Caps' third pair

The list of players who need to play better for the Capitals to come back in their series with the Pittsburgh Penguin is a long one. At the top of the list, however, may be defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

A trade deadline acquisition, Shattenkirk was brought in to add balance and skill to the blue line. A year after bringing in depth defenseman Mike Weber with middling results, the Caps instead swung for the fences by bringing in a player with top four skill to plug into the power play and balance out the third pair with a right-handed shot.

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The move does not seem to be having the desired results.

“[Shattenkirk’s] done some really good things offensively for us but at the same time, I think he's minus-7 in the playoffs so far,” Barry Trotz said on a conference call with the media on Sunday. “He's been mooring that third pairing for us.”

Shattenkirk’s minus-7 is a team low this postseason. Right behind him is his defensive partner, Brooks Orpik. Orpik’s minus-5 reflects just how much that third pair has been struggling, especially this series. Through two games against Pittsburgh, Shattenkirk is a minus-3 with no points.

Despite his struggles, however, Trotz said that he felt “comfortable” with the team's lines suggesting Shattenkirk will remain in the lineup. For now. Karl Alzner is still recovering from an upper-body injury, but Taylor Chorney is available should Trotz decide to make a move. While he may be a top-notch skater, however, there’s no question the ceiling is much higher for a player like Shattenkirk. He just has not been able to play at a level close to that ceiling yet.

“I think if you talked to Kevin he would admit that he could play better,” Trotz said. “I know he can play better and we'll talk to him and we'll make sure that he's better next game.”

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Capitals release 2017-18 promotional calendar

Capitals release 2017-18 promotional calendar

The Capitals Tuesday night released their 2017-18 promotional schedule. This season’s promotions include several giveaways and theme nights.

The giveaways include a schedule magnet on opening night (Oct. 7 vs. Canadiens), a Zamboni gravy boat (Nov. 22 vs. Senators), a puck bottle opener (March 16 vs. Islanders) and a T.J. Oshie bobblehead (March 20 vs. Stars.)

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Among the theme nights are Military Appreciation Night (Feb. 20 vs. Lightning) and Hockey is for Everyone Night (Feb. 24 vs. Sabres.)

The calendar also includes a few games with a focus on community involvement. There will be a canned food drive before Thanksgiving (Nov. 18 vs. Wild) and a #CapsCare toy drive prior to Christmas (Dec. 8 vs. Rangers.)

Here is the full release with a link to the entire promotional calendar.

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Ovechkin, Kuznetsov set to start the season on a line together

Ovechkin, Kuznetsov set to start the season on a line together

Alex Ovechkin will start the season on a line centered by Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday.

“I’ve had them pretty well together the whole camp,” Trotz said. “You can probably see that.”

Trotz also said he intends to have T.J. Oshie centered by Nicklas Backstrom when the Caps open the regular season in Ottawa on Oct. 5.

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Trotz said his plan entering the season is to pair a high-end skill veteran wing with a high-end skill veteran center on each of the first two lines, then add a young player on the other wing.

Andre Burakovsky, 22, figures to be one of those young wingers, giving the Caps five of their top six. The sixth spot, however, remains up for grabs, with Jakub Vrana, 21, Brett Connolly, 25, and others set to compete for it.

“We’re going to start with Kuzy and probably Ovi together and probably a Backy-Osh [pairing], and we’ve got to find…who’s going to go with them,” Trotz said.

Trotz added: “Nothing is permanent in this business, as you know. But that’s probably where we want to start.”

In the battle for the final spot in the top six, Vrana will get the first chance to show what he’s got. The 2014 first round pick will skate on the right of Ovechkin and Kuznetsov as the Caps play preseason game No. 2 in Montreal on Wednesday night.   

“The thing with ‘V’ is he’s a young guy who’s got speed,’ Trotz said of Vrana. “He can get to space, and when he does, he can shoot it. There are very few guys that can skate with Kuzy. We drafted him to be a high prospect and we want to put him in that position. It’s in his hands now.”

Trotz said he’ll reveal the rest of the lineup that’s headed to Bell Centre on Wednesday morning. 

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