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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 12:55 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Lightning at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Part of what allowed the Washington Capitals to develop into Stanley Cup contenders several seasons ago was their distinct home-ice advantage. Between the 2008-09 and 2013-14 seasons, the Capitals’ 146 home victories were fourth-most in the NHL.

This season, however, Verizon Center has been too welcoming to opposing teams.

Washington has a 5-5-4 record at home, having lost four of its last five at Verizon Center entering its game Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is the Capitals’ worst home start in seven years.

“I can’t put my finger on it,” Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I’m sure there’s got to be a difference. I don’t know what it is.”

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Posted On Thursday, 12.11.2014 / 12:32 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green will return Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets after missing seven games with an upper-body injury.

Green sustained the injury Nov. 22 against the Buffalo Sabres. He confirmed earlier this week that it was a separate upper-body issue than the one that kept him out of Washington's season opener against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 9.

The possibility existed Green may have been able to play Tuesday in the Capitals' 5-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He ultimately stayed behind, a decision made to prolong his return.

"I think that it was necessary," Green said. "We talked about the long-term instead of getting back quick and maybe potentially being out again, coming back too soon. I think it was a smart decision. I felt great today and I’m ready to go."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.02.2014 / 1:30 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Canucks at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals recently have concentrated on establishing a more consistent net-front presence offensively. Their play in the same area at the other end of the ice also has been highlighted.

After being hired in May, coach Barry Trotz identified Washington's defense around the crease as one of a few areas in need of improvement.

In recent games against the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs, each team was able to exploit Washington breakdowns and lapses in coverage, which allowed players to drift into the slot for uncontested deflections and rebounds.

"I think last few games interior defense hasn't been that big of a problem. It's been individuals that have been the problems," Trotz said. "In critical moments just not having proper sticks, those type of things. That can be tightened up a little bit."

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Posted On Friday, 11.28.2014 / 12:18 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Islanders at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- In a rematch against the New York Islanders on Friday, the Washington Capitals will endeavor to bust a lengthy scoring drought.

It has been 130:32 since the Capitals scored an even-strength goal, with 120:57 of that time being played at even strength.

That shortage extends even further if limited to 5-on-5 play; Alex Ovechkin's game-winner in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 20, Washington's last even-strength goal, was scored at 4-on-4. The Capitals' 5-on-5 goalless skid currently stands at 136:13, according to JapersRink.com.

Such lapses in even-strength production are not unfamiliar to Washington, which has scored four 5-on-5 goals in its past six games and ranks 22nd with 37 after finishing 21st last season.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.22.2014 / 12:50 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals penalty kill has been robust over the past several games, foiling 14 straight opposing power plays and 17 of 19.

An alteration was made following the Capitals' 6-5 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 2 in which they allowed a season-high six power-play chances and surrendered two goals. That excludes an even-strength goal scored one second after a Washington penalty expired.

Assistant coach Lane Lambert, who oversees the penalty kill, accentuated what forward Jay Beagle called trigger moments, situations such as bouncing pucks, missed shots and opposing skaters on their backhands that call for calculated aggression.

"When you kind of stand there in your box and let them set up, eventually good players are going to make good plays," Beagle said. "We went over quite a bit of video and Lane does a great job on scouting the other team's power play. The main adjustment was just getting more aggressive in certain situations, and he let us know which situations through video."

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Posted On Friday, 11.14.2014 / 5:22 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Devils at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik believes it took him about 60 games last season to commit 11 minor penalties, the same total that has him among the NHL's most penalized players in 15 games this season.

Three players have committed more minor infractions than Orpik this season: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Steve Downie and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.

"They've been weird penalties, to be honest," said Orpik, who took 13 minors in 72 games last season. "I don't think I've had too many like hooking or holding penalties. Those are ones that seem to really frustrate you or annoy you because it means you're not moving your feet or taking lazy penalties."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.11.2014 / 12:53 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- During the Washington Capitals' back-to-back wins over the weekend, Jay Beagle served as Tom Wilson's first-line understudy.

When coach Barry Trotz thought Wilson had "heavy legs" in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, Beagle replaced him with the Capitals clinging to a one-goal lead.

Against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, Beagle ate up some of Wilson's ice time after the latter sustained a lower-body injury late in the first period.

With Wilson out for Washington's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, Beagle will fill in once again, skating on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

"It's what you want," Beagle said. "You want to play against the other team's top guys and the other team's top D-pairings. In the past, when I've got chances to play against top guys, it's been rewarding after games. If you do a good job, it's a lot of fun to know that you helped the team get a big win. I look forward to the challenge."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.04.2014 / 2:04 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flames at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. – As Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz initially toyed with his roster after being hired in May, he pictured Tom Wilson as the first-line right wing next to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Offseason ankle surgery for Wilson, necessitated by what the Capitals described as a “fall,” delayed Trotz’s plans.

In the first period of Washington’s 6-5 loss Sunday to the Arizona Coyotes, the 20-year-old graduated to the top line and provided a glimpse of what Trotz had envisioned on his first goal of the season: drifting toward the crease, establishing position and deflecting an Ovechkin shot into the net.

He finished the game with a career-high 15:04 of ice time.

"I don't want to change my game too much, but I think they kind of change your game,” Wilson said of playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom. “They're such good players that they create space for you and they get in good places for you, so it's easier for you to play and allows you to make plays when they're in all the right spots and really contributing to your game.”

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Posted On Sunday, 11.02.2014 / 11:37 AM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Coyotes at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- With the Washington Capitals and Arizona Coyotes each playing on the road Saturday, neither team held a morning skate prior to their game Sunday at Verizon Center.

The game features two teams in need of a victory to halt recent skids.

The Coyotes have lost the first three games of their four-game Eastern Conference road trip, the most recent a 3-0 loss to the previously winless Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. In losing six of seven (1-5-1), Arizona has the fewest points in the Western Conference with seven.

"There's lots of glaring holes in our game," captain Shane Doan told The Arizona Republic following the loss to the Hurricanes. "Pretty embarrassing."

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.29.2014 / 1:32 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Scouring the game log of Alex Ovechkin's decade-long career, there have been few prolonged scoring droughts.

The Washington Capitals captain is without a goal or assist in his past four games, the fifth time in his 687-game career he has been held pointless for that long. If he fails to get one against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, SN1), it will be the longest slump of his career, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Ovechkin has seven shots over that span, the second time he has had two or fewer shots in each of four consecutive games, according to JapersRink.com. That is uncharacteristic of the 29-year-old, who has led the NHL in shots eight times and has a career average of 5.05 shots per game

"It's hard to say for myself, but I just play as I can, play hard," Ovechkin said. "If I didn't score goals, I try to do different stuff."

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Quote of the Day

When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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