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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.”

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Justin Williams, Caps aren't having 'in-depth discussions' with free agency looming

Justin Williams, Caps aren't having 'in-depth discussions' with free agency looming

Capitals free agent forward Justin Williams told his agent he's "going dark" today because he's on the golf course, playing in the Quicken Loans Pro-Am at TPC Potomac. But Caps fans managed to find him anyway, asking for an autograph and making a plea to stay in Washington.

Williams, who will turn 36 in October, just completed the second of a two-year deal with Washington but said he's not sure where he'll end up next season.

"I really can't give a number on what percentage I'm here staying, what percentage I'm leaving," Williams said. "I'm not sure. We haven't had very in-depth discussions with Washington so far, so we'll see."

RELATED: What does the Copley deal mean for Grubauer?

Williams is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is currently going through the league's interview process until that day.

"It's a very humbling process, people vying for your services, and you know, you just want to be wanted and it's an interesting time, but it will be all clear in the next few days."

Teammate John Carlson will be playing alongside Williams in the Pro-Am and added that he believes "enough teams will probably be in on him, so that's the first and foremost important thing, in terms of being able to be on a good team."

Don't expect any news today, though, Williams is focused on his golf game.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps re-sign Copley as their No. 3 goalie

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With Copley re-signed, does that mean the Caps are ready to part with Grubauer?

With Copley re-signed, does that mean the Caps are ready to part with Grubauer?

The Capitals are a team in need of a top-four defenseman after the departure of Nate Schmidt to Vegas. One option to address that need is a trade, a trade that may have gotten that much easier for Washington to make with the re-signing of goalie Pheonix Copley on Wednesday.

Philipp Grubauer, the current backup to Braden Holtby, appears to be the team’s biggest trade asset. Holtby is a Vezina caliber goalie signed through the 2019-20 season. The team also boasts one of the top goalie prospects in the world in Ilya Samsonov who is expected to be Washington’s future starter. That means Grubauer, who looks ready to start now, is expendable.

RELATED: Gersich has eye on NHL after breakout season

Or at least, he would be if the team had another viable option at backup.

The Pittsburgh Penguins showed how important having a dependable backup can be as they had to call upon Marc-Andre Fleury for 15 games in the playoffs when starter Matt Murray suffered an injury. For a Capitals team still hoping their championship window has not officially closed, they cannot go into next season without a plan for who their No. 2 may be.

Enter Copley, who signed a two-year contract extension with Washington on Wednesday.

The Capitals thought enough of Copley that after trading him to the St. Louis Blues in 2015 in the T.J. Oshie deal, they reacquired him this season in the Kevin Shattenkirk trade. He enjoyed a dominant stint in his return Hershey and is someone assistant general Ross Mahoney believes is ready to “take a shot” at filling the backup role behind Holtby.

But when will he get that opportunity? Grubauer, a current restricted free agent, will likely either return on a bridge contract or be traded. The problem for Washington is that the current market for goalies in the NHL is a buyers market. There are very few teams who actually need a goalie and there are plenty of options to fill that need. The Caps have a budding starter in Grubauer who they are not going to give away free so they may just bide their time until a trade partner emerges rather than rush a trade to address their need for a defenseman.

Copley's contract seems to account for that possibility as it is a two-way deal the first year and one-way the second, meaning in the second year of his contract he will be earning an NHL salary regardless of whether he is in the AHL or NHL.

Re-signing Copley does not mean a Grubauer trade is imminent, but it does answer the question of who the Caps could potentially replace him with behind Holtby if a trade does happen.

MORE CAPITALS: Nathan Walker is 'as close as anybody' to being NHL ready