Trotz takes the blame for Ovechkin’s ice time


Alex Ovechkin only played 15:08 in last night’s 4-3 overtime loss in Toronto, and today Capitals head coach Barry Trotz took the blame.

“That’s on me to get him the ice time,” Trotz said, per Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post.

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

Ovechkin logged 2:28 on the power play in Game 3, much of it on a failed 5-on-3 early in the second period. That meant he only got 12:40 at even strength, the seventh-most among the 12 Caps forwards.

There was a 10-minute stretch in the third period, when the game was tied 3-3, when Ovechkin barely played at all. That was partly due to a couple of Washington penalties, but the coach could have found a way to get him out there more.

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

Ovechkin averaged 18:22 of ice time during the regular season. That was down from the 20:19 he averaged last season, in an effort to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

In other Caps news, defenseman Karl Alzner is still out. He’ll miss his second straight game tomorrow.

Jackets need Bobrovsky to return to regular-season form


Sergei Bobrovsky was the MVP of the Blue Jackets this season.

He might even be a finalist for MVP of the league.

But Bobrovsky hasn’t been great in these playoffs. The 28-year-old goalie has allowed 11 goals in three games, all Columbus losses to Pittsburgh, for a save percentage of just .897.

Bobrovsky’s save percentage during the regular season was .932, and he’ll no doubt win another Vezina Trophy in recognition. If the Jackets have any chance of making it a series against the Penguins, he’ll need to be that goalie from now on.

“There’s no question, in the playoffs, your goaltender needs to be your best player,” head coach John Tortorella said this morning, per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. “Bob needs to be our best player tonight.”

Only four NHL teams have come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win, against almost 200 that have failed.

That said, two of the comebacks have occurred in the last decade, and it’s not like the Jackets have been badly outplayed by the Penguins.

If Bobrovsky can return to form tonight, the Jackets can at least get the series back to Pittsburgh and put a little pressure on the defending champs.

Canucks reportedly interested in Krueger, but is the feeling mutual?


The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly interested in Ralph Krueger for their head-coaching vacancy, and Krueger may be sorta, kinda interested too.

The former Edmonton Oilers head coach, currently the chairman of English Premier League side Southampton, told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that he’s “had some interesting chats these past weeks, but my focus remains fully on the Saints for now.”

The “for now” part would seem to leave the door slightly ajar.

Krueger, who coached Team Europe to an unlikely spot in the final of the 2016 World Cup, made a similar statement in September.

“I came in here committed completely to Southampton Football Club and the future of that organization in my role,” he said. “You can never say never, but at the moment I’m very proud to be back in hockey at this level and to be competing. We are just having so much fun in our room, the coaches, the players, the whole group is enjoying it, and I am, too. But my real life is my commitment to Southampton Football Club at the moment.”

Another qualifier: “at the moment.”

Of course, the consensus candidate to replace Willie Desjardins in Vancouver has been Travis Green, who’s coached the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica the past four seasons.

But ever since the World Cup, there’s been speculation about Krueger, who many feel got a raw deal in Edmonton.

Krueger was fired after just one lockout-shortened season as Oilers head coach. He was replaced by Dallas Eakins, who didn’t last too long on the job either.

Related: In farewell to Vancouver, Willie Desjardins defends his approach to young players

Nash takes responsibility for ‘selfish’ OT penalty


Close to tears, Riley Nash took responsibility for the penalty he took in overtime that led to the Senators’ winning power-play goal last night in Boston.

“I think it was pretty selfish of me, you know…you can’t make that play,” said Nash, per CSN New England. “[You] can’t put the refs in that position regardless of what happened before that, you’ve just got to [take it]. It’s pretty tough for the boys.”

What happened before — just before — was Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan giving Nash an elbow to the head along the boards. Nash responded with a quick jab to Ryan’s head, and the referee gave Nash two minutes for roughing.

Watch Bruins vs. Senators: Game 5 on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET on USA)

That it was Ryan who scored the winner was just salt in the wounds.

“It’s been a pretty physical series all three games, so we’ve had some good runs at them,” said Nash. “They’ve had some good runs at us. I think that’s just playoff hockey, but it’s just one of those things that, a dirty play here, a dirty play there…it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to bite your lip and just take it.”

While Nash took responsibility for his actions, NBC’s Pierre McGuire thought it was the referees who blew it.

“That’s got to be matching minors,” said McGuire. “Honestly, if you’re going to set the standard, you’ve got to call it the right way. I have no skin in this game at all. But if you’re going to set a standard, you’ve got to call it both ways. That’s a hit to the head (by Ryan). That’s got to be called. If you’re going to call the next one, then call it. That is not well done at all. That’s a big break for Ottawa.”

Regardless, the Senators lead the Bruins, 2-1, in their best-of-seven series. Game 4 goes Wednesday in Boston.

Vigneault vows a better Rangers effort in Game 4


It was only their third game of the playoffs, and already the New York Rangers looked out of gas.

Credit to the Montreal Canadiens, of course. The Habs smothered the Blueshirts Sunday at MSG, limiting their opponents to just 21 shots in a 3-1 victory.

But now it’s on the Rangers to show that they’re still in the series, that they do have something left in the tank. They were good in Game 1 at Bell Centre, a 2-0 victory, but they lost momentum in Game 2, a 4-3 overtime loss, and they couldn’t get it back in Game 3.

Stream Rangers vs. Canadiens on NBC Sports

For veteran forward Derek Stepan, it wasn’t a lack of effort that was to blame.

“I don’t think we worked smart enough,” Stepan said, per NHL.com. “I’ve been here for a long time. This group has worked extremely hard. We’ve put in solid work throughout the season and in the playoffs. No one is tougher on us than ourselves. We’re working so hard but I think we need to work a little smarter. I don’t think it’s a lack of effort. I think it’s a lack of brain power at times. ”

Meanwhile, it was a defiant Alain Vigneault who met with reporters Monday. The New York media was not kind to the Rangers in the wake of Sunday’s performance, and it sounded like the head coach had read what was written.

“Obviously, we didn’t pick a good time yesterday to have a very ordinary game,” said Vigneault. “But tomorrow we’ve got an opportunity to make this series 2-2. And anybody who believes that this group doesn’t want to play well, doesn’t want to win, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. We’re gonna go out and we’re gonna compete … and we’re gonna play a lot better than we did yesterday.”

Above all, Vigneault wants his team to manage the puck better, after turnovers become a problem in Game 3. He did not say whether there would be any lineup changes, though common sense says there could be.

The Rangers can ill afford to head back to Montreal trailing 3-1.