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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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Capitals vs. Penguins: Game 2 time, TV channel, how to watch, live stream

Capitals vs. Penguins: Game 2 time, TV channel, how to watch, live stream

The Capitals trail the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 in their best of seven series after a tight 3-2 loss in Game 1 on Thursday. With two games in Pittsburgh on the horizon, Washington will look to pull one back in a critical Game 2 at home on Saturday.

Expect the officials to be more of a factor in Game 2. There were only two power play opportunities in Game 1 and they both went against the Caps. The team tried hard not to voice their displeasure atter the game, but it was clear they were not happy.

Braden Holtby managed only 18 saves on 21 shots in Thursday's loss. He took responsibility for what he felt was a poor performance and will look to bounce back in Game 2. History suggests he will have a strong night.

Despite the 1-0 deficit to Washington's hated rival, it is still far too early to panic. Not only is it a long best of seven series, but head coach Barry Trotz believes this year's team is different from the one that was unable to defeate Pittsburgh a year ago.

RELATED: CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS PLAYOFF PREVIEW

CAPITALS VS. PENGUINS GAME 2 HOW TO WATCH

Who: Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
What: Game 2 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference Second Round
When: 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 29
Where: Verizon Center
Online Stream: NBCSN's live stream page. Watch Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. and Caps Extra following the game with CSN's live stream page here.
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Radio: 1500 AM (Capitals Radio Network)

RELATED: STANLEY CUP POWER RANKINGS

WHEN IS CAPITALS-PENGUINS GAME 2?

The Capitals and Penguins square off in Game 2 of their 2017 second-round playoff series on Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

WHAT CHANNEL IS CAPITALS-PENGUINS GAME 2 ON?

Game 2 of the Capitals-Penguins series will be broadcast on NBC and CBC in Canada.

WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS-PENGUINS GAME 2?

Capitals-Penguins Game 2 is available to stream live here through NBCSN's live stream page. Caps GameTime and Caps Extra pre and postgame shows are available to stream live here through CSN's live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE LINES FOR CAPITALS-PENGUINS GAME 2?

Here are the projected lines for Capitals-Penguins Game 2:

CAPITALS

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - Tom Wilson
Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Brett Connolly

Defense
Nate Schmidt - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches
Chandler Stephenson, Paul Carey, Karl Alzner, Taylor Chorney

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS GAME 1 LINES

Forwards
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Bryan Rust - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson - Nick Bonino - Conor Sheary
Chris Kunitz - Matt Cullen - Tom Kuhnhackl

Defense
Ian Cole - Justin Schultz
Brian Dumoulin - Ron Hainsey
Olli Maatta - Trevor Daley

Goalies
Marc-Andre Fleury starts with Tristan Jarry as backup

Scratches
Carl Hagelin, Carter Rowney, Mark Streit, Chad Ruhwedel, Matt Murray

RELATED: 2017 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

CAPITALS-PENGUINS GAME 2 BETTING LINES

Stanley Cup Odds: Capitals 7/2 (+350), Penguins 17/4 (+425)
Game 2 Spread: Capitals -1.5
Game 2 Over/Under: 5.5 goals
Game 2 Money Line: Capitals (-150), Penguins (+120)

CAPITALS-PENGUINS GAME 2 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

CSN ON TWITTER:
— CSN's official Capitals account CSN Capitals 
— Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir
— Capitals Digital Producer JJ Regan
— Capitals Desk Producer Troy Machir

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Keep up with all the action here with Capitals GameZone and join in on the conversation here with Capitals Pulse.

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Barry Trotz explains why he believes this year's Capitals team is different

Barry Trotz explains why he believes this year's Capitals team is different

If you walked away from Washington’s Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins thinking to yourself, “same ol’ Caps, same ol’ story,” it’s not hard to understand why. This team has not made it past the second round of the playoffs since 1998 and have beaten the rival Penguins only once in nine postseason meetings.
 
Last year’s dream season in which the Capitals were virtually uncontested through the entire season as the top team in the NHL was brought to an abrupt end in the second round at the hands of the Penguins in six games. After another Presidents’ Trophy winning season, seeing the Caps lose Game 1 to Pittsburgh at home has already left many fans feeling despondent.
 
But that’s not how the Caps feel.
 
“We're in a different place,” head coach Barry Trotz said after Friday’s practice when comparing this team to last year’s. “I think we feel that we still can build on our game.”
 
In many ways, the Capitals were actually the better team in Game 1. Washington held a large advantage in terms of shot attempts (72-32) and scoring chances (41-15) and still walked away with the loss. And yet, despite dominating on paper, Trotz still felt his team had more to give.
 
“I think last year, we came at them real hard and go, what else can we do?” Trotz said. “I don't have that feeling this year. I know we can do more, we know we can do more. That's a great thing to have is we know we can be better, we know we can do more.”
 
“I could lie to you and say that, but I’m not,” Trotz added as he stressed to the media that his confident rhetoric was not simply coach-speak.
 
Despite what happened on paper, the game appeared to be very even as it played out. The big difference seemed to be that every mistake the Caps made ended up in the back of their net.
 
Trotz’s confidence was likely not simply a brave face to wear before the media, but necessary for his players as well. If there was a feeling from last season of “What more can we do?” it would be hard to shake that feeling considering the picture the numbers paint of a dominant Caps’ performance in Game 1. The fact is, if they continue playing the way they did, they will come out on the winning end more often than not. The difference will be cleaning up those mistakes that a championship caliber teams like Pittsburgh always take advantage of.
 
All three of the goals Washington gave up in Game 1 were preventable. The first came when Matt Niskanen pinched too far into the neutral zone off the opening faceoff in the second period. A turnover led to a 2-on-1 in the wrong direction. Pittsburgh’s second goal was the result of Braden Holtby getting a glove on a slap shot from Olli Maatta but not holding onto it, leading to a rebound opportunity that Sidney Crosby finished. The third came with Brooks Orpik high in the neutral zone. A stretch pass left the defense exposed and Kevin Shattenkirk went after Scott Wilson as opposed to staying more center to account for the trailing Orpik and a wide-open Nick Bonino.
 
In terms of overall play, there’s not much more you can do if you dominate the defending Cup champs. What they can do, however, is cut out those mistakes, prevent those preventable goals and not dwell on them as they go forward in the series.
 
“I think we've learned to go forward, I think we've learned to park things and that's what the change is, that's where we wanted to get to,” Trotz said. “I don't know if we're fully there or not, but we're going in that right direction so I'm excited about the rest of the series for sure.”

MORE CAPITALS: Holtby's history suggests he'll bounce back in Game 2