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Trotz says it's 'on me' to get Ovechkin more playing time

Trotz says it's 'on me' to get Ovechkin more playing time

TORONTO—Capitals coach Barry Trotz says it’s on him to get Alex Ovechkin more playing time.

According to the NHL’s official game sheet, Ovechkin played 22 shifts covering 15:08 in Monday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs. Four Caps forwards skated more overall, and six played more at even strength. Ovechkin played only 4:13 in a crucial third period.

Following an optional practice at the Leafs' facility on Tuesday, Trotz took the blame for Ovechkin's low ice time total. 

“That’s on me to get him the ice time,” Trotz said.

Ovechkin did not skate and was not available to comment.

“Sometimes that’s situational,” Trotz continued. “Sometimes that’s zone starts. His minutes should be…I can get those up.”

The Caps captain averaged 18:22 during the regular season, which was down almost two minutes per game from the previous year as Trotz attempted to manage the 31-year-old's minutes and keep him fresh for the playoffs.

According to hockeyreference.com, Ovechkin’s ice time total Monday night was the second lowest of his playoff career. The other four times he played fewer than 16 minutes came during the 2012 postseason, including a career-low of 13:36.

RELATED: FEAR NOT CAPS FANS, PLAYOFF CHAOS WAS ACROSS THE BOARD ON MONDAY NIGHT

Trotz said Ovechkin’s ice time total in Game 3 was not a reflection of his play. In fact, Trotz praised No. 8, who scored a goal and a team-high five shots on goal. He also logged four hits and two blocked shots.

“It wasn’t based on play,” Trotz said. “I thought Ovi was playing terrific. It’s on me to get him a little more ice time, no question.”

Trotz reiterated that Ovechkin’s playing time had more to do with the flow of the game, his attempt at getting favorable matchups and a preference for starting the top line in the offensive zone.

(It’s also important to note that Ovechkin does not kill penalties, which reduces his playing time. For example, Nicklas Backstrom played 17:30 on Monday, while T.J. Oshie skated 18:37. They, however, saw 1:52 and 1:04 of shorthanded ice time, respectively.)

As far as matchups Monday, Ovechkin saw quite a bit of the Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Connor Brown again. He also faced the Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev defensive pair.

“Sometimes you look at minutes and sometimes they are overstated because you’re out there 20 minutes, but they're not quality minutes,” Trotz said. “His minutes have been hard, quality minutes. I know him and Komarov have been going at it and Zaitsev and [Morgan] Rielly and all that. So he’s targeted. They’re doing their job, just as we’re doing our job on their guys.”

Trotz added: “There’s rhythms in the game. You try to get [Ovechkin] offensive [zone] starts. We’ve got to get a few more offensive starts here and there, too.”

RELATED: CAPITALS' KARL ALZNER RULED OUT FOR GAME 4 AGAINST MAPLE LEAFS

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Trotz: Re-signing Oshie was 'the highest priority' for the Caps

Trotz: Re-signing Oshie was 'the highest priority' for the Caps

CHICAGO—As excited as Barry Trotz was about retaining T.J. Oshie’s goal production, he was just as pleased to keep all the intangibles the 30-year-old brings to Washington's lineup. 

“For us, that was the highest priority,” Trotz said of re-signing Oshie. “Obviously, Osh means a lot to us.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps locked up the high-scoring winger to an eight-year, $46 million contract extension. 

“I think it sends a great message to not only our team [but] our fans,” Trotz said. “You see what Osh did the last two years. He’s a big part of our culture, a big part of our success.”

RELATED: Caps made 'a couple of good' offers but to keep Schmidt

Oshie has put up back-to-back career highs in goals, scoring 26 in 2015-16 and 33 last season. He’s also a lead-by-example type who plays bigger than his 6-foot, 189-pounds.

“He’s a guy that brings energy,” Trotz said. “He’s a guy that consistently brings a high compete level, a high execution level and a relentless attitude. That’s Osh.”

The Caps now have four of their top-6 forwards from last season under contract, with Oshie joining Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. Restricted free agent Evgeny Kuznetsov, meantime, is expected to re-sign, while Andre Burakovsky figures to round out the top two lines. Burakovsky is also a restricted free agent.

“We knew we were going to lose some guys,” Trotz said. “We still feel we’re going to be a high-scoring team. Obviously Osh had a career year last year. We’re hoping that he can build on that and have other people step in and fill some roles.”

MORE CAPITALS: MacLellan: Caps likely done signing own UFAs

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MacLellan: Caps made 'a couple of good' offers but lost Schmidt to Vegas anyway

MacLellan: Caps made 'a couple of good' offers but lost Schmidt to Vegas anyway

CHICAGO—The Caps tried to work out a side deal with Las Vegas ahead of Wednesday’s expansion draft but were unable to dissuade the Golden Knights from ultimately plucking a player off their roster, GM Brian MacLellan said. 
 
Vegas, of course, selected Nate Schmidt, a 25-year-old defenseman whom Washington left exposed. The Caps had Schmidt penciled into a top-4 role for next season.   
 
“We made a couple of good offers, I think,” MacLellan said Friday night at United Center, where the NHL was hosting the entry draft. “I think they just liked Schmidt.”

RELATED: MacLellan: Caps likely done signing own UFAs
 
MacLellan said Vegas’ asking price was “a couple of assets” but he declined to be specific. 
 
“I think in the end, they really like Schmidt,” MacLellan said. “At one point, we thought they were taking [backup goaltender Philipp] Grubauer. They probably were making a choice down to the end, and they ended up choosing Schmidt.”
 
The loss of Schmidt leaves the Caps with a hole on the blue line that they haven't quite figured out how to fill just yet, MacLellan said. 
 
The Caps currently have four defensemen—Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney—under contract for next season. Restricted free agent Dmitry Orlov, meanwhile, is expected to re-sign. But that still leaves Washington one short of three full pairs, and that doesn't factor in the need for a quality seventh so they've got some work to do.

“We have a job opening,” MacLellan said. “We’re going to look at [our] young guys, look at free agents, maybe the trade market. We’ll see. We’ll pursue all avenues and see what we can come up with.”

MORE CAPITALS: Oshie signs long-term deal to stay in D.C.

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