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No changes to Caps coaching staff, but no extension talks with Trotz yet, either

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Another great regular season nullified by another playoff disappointment kickstarted talk earlier this month about the future of Barry Trotz as head coach of the Washington Capitals.

However, based on reports from general manager Brian MacLellan’s Tuesday press conference, there will be no changes to the coaching staff, led by Trotz.

To recap: The Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top regular season team, but were sent to another second-round elimination to the rival Penguins.

In three years behind the Washington bench, Trotz and the Capitals have amassed 156 regular season wins and three straight 100-plus point seasons. The third round of the playoffs, however, has been elusive, which put his future with that club into question.

From Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet:

Incredibly, Barry Trotz’s future isn’t secure. (One GM, hearing that, texted, “This league is a joke if [that’s] real.”) The surest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Trotz said all the right things about Ovechkin accepting a move to the third line, but check Washington’s history. Dale Hunter didn’t return after demoting Ovechkin in 2012. Adam Oates faced pushback when he moved the captain into unfamiliar positions, and a harsh team meeting late in the 2013–14 season (where Ovechkin was ripped by several teammates) caused significant problems before a coaching change.

This is still a situation worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks and months leading up to next season. According to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post, Trotz is entering the final year of his contract and MacLellan said there has yet to be any contract extension talks between the two sides.

While MacLellan said there will be no changes to the coaching staff, they may still indeed lose assistant coach Todd Reirden to one of the vacant head coaching gigs in the NHL.

Reirden was reportedly going to interview for the Panthers coaching position, and could be a candidate in Buffalo, as well.

Meanwhile, MacLellan has plenty of decisions ahead of him, with 11 players on expiring contracts. Next year’s projected salary cap could have a huge impact on which pending unrestricted free agents the club decides to and can bring back.

The Capitals have five pending UFAs: Justin Williams, Daniel Winnik, T.J. Oshie, Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk. They also have six pending restricted free agents, most notably Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Dmitry Orlov, who are in line for substantial raises. Based on his comments today, the pending RFAs are the main focus right now for MacLellan.

MacLellan did say Oshie is a good fit in Washington. He was tied for the team lead in goals (33) with Alex Ovechkin. But with the restricted free agents he must get under contract, re-signing Oshie will depend on the salary cap.

Following another playoff disappointment, the prospect of a decline is certainly possible in Washington.

Roberto Luongo leaves game with apparent injury, as Panthers fall to Penguins

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The Florida Panthers lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Making matters worse was the fact their goalie Roberto Luongo left the game in the third period with an apparent hand injury.

The injury occurred after a collision in the crease with Penguins forward Conor Sheary.

Luongo immediately went down to the ice in pain. A replay from above the net showed Luongo’s right hand getting caught in an awkward position against the post after coming into contact with Sheary as he cut through in front of the crease in pursuit of the puck.

The injury forced James Reimer off the bench and into the game with the Panthers trailing by a goal. MacKenzie Weegar tied the game for Florida before Sheary scored the eventual winner about eight minutes later, on a night when the Penguins fired 48 shots on the two Panthers goalies.

Luongo gave up three goals on 36 shots before leaving the game. The Panthers now head out on the road. They’ll visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Video: More offside drama had Sabres coach Phil Housley up in arms

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Just hours after the NHL admitted to an offside challenge error, there was another controversy during the Sabres-Canucks game on Friday.

Vancouver appeared to take the lead on a Daniel Sedin goal. However, Buffalo coach Phil Housley challenged the play for offside, after replays showed Jake Virtanen may not have had complete control of the puck as he broke in over the blue line.

The following challenge resulted in a brutally long review. For Buffalo, it was also unsuccessful as, surprisingly, officials deemed Virtanen did have control of the puck as he entered the zone. The goal counted, Vancouver took the lead.

Housley was not happy about it.

Not only was the challenge unsuccessful, but the Sabres were penalized for delay of game as a result.

From the NHL:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, NHL Hockey Operations staff confirmed that Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had possession and control of the puck as he entered the attacking zone prior to the goal. According to Rule 83.1, “a player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered ‘off-side,’ provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the blue line.”

Therefore the original call stands – good goal Vancouver Canucks.

It took 4:27 to come to a decision, too.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Devils place goalie Cory Schneider on injured reserve

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The New Jersey Devils placed goalie Cory Schneider on injured reserve with a lower-body injury suffered Thursday night in a 5-4 overtime victory at Ottawa.

Schneider left after the second period. Keith Kinkaid replaced him and stopped all nine shots he faced to earn the victory.

With Schneider sidelined, Kinkaid was expected to start Friday night at home against San Jose.

The Devils recalled goalie Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League.

The Devils catch a scheduling break with a week off until their next game Oct. 27, the first day Schneider is eligible to return.

Schneider is 4-1-0 in six games this season with a 3.30 goals-against average.

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Andreas Athanasiou, Red Wings finally settle on one-year deal

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The contract stalemate between the Detroit Red Wings and Andreas Athanasiou is finally over.

On Friday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the two sides struck a deal that will see the 23-year-old forward back in the lineup, at least for this season. It’s a one-year deal worth $1.387 million.

Due to Detroit’s tight salary cap situation, the deal has not been officially registered with the NHL because general manager Ken Holland needs to free up space in order to fit Athanasiou’s contract.

Athanasiou, who was a restricted free agent this summer, was seeking a two-year deal worth around $2.5 million per season. The Red Wings, meanwhile, were holding firm on a one- or two-year deal carrying a $1.9 million AAV. As the stalemate dragged on, he began practicing with Swiss side HC Lugano, but did not sign a contract. He had until Dec. 1 to make an NHL return in order to be eligible to play this season. The KHL card was played, but as Torey Krug showed, that move is always a clear bluff.

The one-year pact is essentially a “show-me” deal for Athanasiou, who scored 18 goals and recorded 29 points last season. He finished second on the Red Wings in even strength goals (17) in 2016-17 and tallied a pair of overtime winners. A good year and with some salary off the books next summer, he can cash in with a longer-term contract. He’ll once again be an RFA next summer, so Detroit will control his rights, but he’ll have arbitration rights.

According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, along with the contract Athanasiou has been promised a minutes bump from the 13:27 he played last season, as well as regular time on both special teams units.

Detroit is off to a 4-3-0 start and averaging 3.14 goals per game. Once Athanasiou arrives from Switzerland and gets up to speed — possibly with an AHL conditioning stint — his presence will certainly be a boost to the Red Wings’ lineup.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.: