Trotz wasn’t emotionally prepared to judge Ovechkin, Capitals for Game 7


The Verizon Center crowd was stunned and wounded after the Washington Capitals fell 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7. Plenty of people were just shocked into silence. Barry Trotz had a pretty similar reaction.

The veteran bench boss praised specific elements of the Penguins’ play, but when it came to assessing his own team, the wounds were too raw.

And, yes, that included what he thought of Alex Ovechkin‘s play in Game 7.

“Emotionally, right now, I don’t want to answer that question,” Trotz said. “‘We win and lose as a team.’ That’s probably my best answer right now.”

That assessment raised some eyebrows at first, but before you cook up a bigger controversy, note that he also said basically the same thing when asked about the Capitals’ overall play in the beginning of his presser. You can notice the similarities before the minute mark and then the 3:30 mark of the audio clip here; he even said something along the lines of winning and losing as a team in both instances.

MORE: Ovechkin regrets Capitals’ “lack of urgency.”

Now, you could start to look into the way Trotz used Ovechkin – and the fact that he didn’t exactly exonerate his captain, either – if you want to cook something up.

Trotz put out Ovechkin for 18:22 time on ice, less than T.J. Oshie (22:38), Nicklas Backstrom (21:58), Justin Williams (19:51), Marcus Johansson (19:24), Andre Burakovsky (19:19) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (19:18). No doubt about it, Ovechkin’s ice time has been a topic of discussion during the postseason.

It’s not outrageous to at least broach the subject, either, after Ovechkin topped Capitals forwards in average ice time during the regular season … though it was amusingly with an average of 18:22 per game.

MORE: Penguins played their best game when they needed it the most

One way or another, Trotz turned to other forwards more than Ovechkin during key moments, including in this 2-0 loss.

Ovechkin fired four shots on goal, delivered four hits and generated a single takeaway in Game 7, but he was also on the ice for both Penguins goals. That’s a respectable effort, but he too will admit that it wasn’t enough (and that the Capitals’ overall efforts weren’t enough).

And, deep down, Washington likely realizes that Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby are just as crucial (or almost as important) to their hopes of contending as Ovechkin is at this point.

With a ton of free agents likely to part ways with the Capitals – T.J. Oshie possibly included – the Capitals may choose to lean on Ovechkin quite a bit more the next time they’re in a big game.

Assuming Trotz wants to.

The Buzzer: Shutouts for three, Dubnyk gets win No. 200

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Players of the Night:

Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins, Keith Kinkaid, New Jersey Devils and Curtis McElhinney, Toronto Maple Leafs: Where do we begin on the night of the shutout? Rask didn’t have a particularly busy night making 23 saves, but when you’re facing names like Kucherov and Stamkos, it’s always dangerous. Still, Rask kept rolling along. He is 27-3-2 in his past 32 starts. That’s just silly. … Kinkaid, meanwhile stopped 38 — including 19 in the first period — in a 3-0 win against the Kings for his fourth career shutout. … No Frederik Andersen for Toronto? No problem. McElhinney stepped in and pitched a 33-save performance as the Leafs down the Montreal Canadiens 4-0.

Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues: The Blues defenseman scored twice in regulation and then assisted on Brayden Schenn‘s overtime winner to cap off a three-point night.

Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild: While he didn’t get a shutout, Dubnyk did stop 30 of 31 en route to his 200th career NHL win. The win was also important for the Wild, who moved to within five points of the Winnipeg Jets for second place in the Central Division, and moved five points ahead of the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche for third place.

Highlights of the Night:

Filthy pass:

First-goal celebrations are always the best:

Voracek with a slick move in front:

Save of the year candidate:

Factoids of the Night:

Home is where the wins are:

A legend passes a legend:

Believe in McJesus:

Scary Scenes of the Night:


Sabres 5, Blackhawks 3

Oilers 4, Panthers 2

Devils 3, Kings 0

Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 0

Bruins 3, Lightning 0

Flyers 4, Hurricanes 2

Blue Jackets 2, Senators 1

Blue 4, Rangers 3 (OT)

Wild 3, Coyotes 1

Sharks 5, Canucks 3

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Senators’ Ryan Dzingel drilled in the head with a puck (video)

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We already saw one lacerated leg, and now we have a one-timer drilling a player in the back of the helmet.

Saturday night hasn’t been so kind.

Ottawa Senators forward Ryan Dzingel was forced to leave the game after some friendly fire against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 2-1 loss.

Dzingel was drilled in the back of the head from teammate Mike Hoffman‘s one-timer of the back of his helmet around the mid-way point of the third period.

Dzingel remained down for a time but was able to skate off the ice with some assistance from Ottawa’s trainers.

He did not return to the game.

If you watch this closely, you will see Dzingel’s No. 8 on the back of his helmet fly off after contact with the puck.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Bruins’ David Backes suffers leg laceration in collision (video)


A scary scene unfolded in the first period between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the visiting Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

David Backes and Yanni Gourde came together in the Lightning crease, with Gourde’s skate appearing to cut Backes on the outside of his right leg.

Backes was able to make his way to the Bruins bench on his own, but he was clutching the back of his leg before getting some help down the tunnel.

Backes did not return to the game.

The Bruins said that Backes suffered a laceration above his right knee, which required several stitches to close.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Dundon, Hurricanes suspend search for new GM: report


The Carolina Hurricanes’ search for a general manager is on hiatus.

Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported Saturday that the process of replacing former GM Ron Francis is being put on hold for the time being, citing that owner Tom Dundon needs more time.

“Tom hasn’t had the time he needs to do face to face interviews and feels that waiting will pay off,” Shannon wrote in a tweet.

Francis was removed from his post as GM on March 7 and “promoted” to a new role as president of hockey operations. There was only one catch: whoever replaced Francis would bypass the Hurricanes’ legend and report directly to Dundon.

The search, thus far, hasn’t been going that well, with three potential targets already withdrawing any interest they were thought to have had.

Part of that problem could be how hands-on Dundon appears to want to be. Part of it could just be timing. Fenton, for instance, could be on his way to a Stanley Cup ring this year in Nashville.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman touched on the situation in a recent 31 Thoughts column.

“I think what I’m looking for, is we have to be comfortable with each other. That’s the most important thing,” Dundon told Friedman when asked what he wants in a new GM. “I actually like to disagree and argue. I don’t want someone to come in and just do what I say, and I don’t want to make decisions. Someone to create a structure of how something is a good idea, and now we are going to get it done.”

You can add Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin to the list:

I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that Dundon wanting his hands all over the team — including whatever the GM is doing — isn’t the best selling point.

There’s some good, young talent on the Hurricanes for a new GM to come in and build around, but there’s also some dead weight, including what’s turned into a bad contract with goalie Scott Darling.

No GM wants to play puppet for an owner.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said the Hurricanes will suspend their search until the summer when a larger crop of candidates reveals itself.

Still, you have to wonder who’ll be willing to take that plunge. Someone will, of course, but people haven’t exactly been lining up to fill the role.

UPDATE: On Headlines on Saturday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that the salary being offered to a prospective GM in Carolina is $400,000, to which he said he doesn’t see any GM taking as it’s too low. Friedman, meanwhile, believes the search for a new GM is not on a complete hiatus.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck