Caps' loss to Penguins "was pretty brutal"
News and notes as the Capitals try to turn the page on Wednesday night’s 4-0 loss to the Penguins and prepare themselves for Friday night’s visit by the Montreal Canadiens:
No push back: So what does a coach tell his players the morning after they were beaten badly by their most bitter rivals on national television? “The first thing I showed them was our execution and decisions with the puck. When they scored a goal we weren’t ourselves and that’s something we should have conquered by now. … There were 39 minutes of the game we didn’t want. … We were down 2-0 against Pittsburgh. That’s where the team has to show character.”
Who’s in goal: Oates said he’s leaning toward putting Braden Holtby back between the pipes Friday night after seeing him allow four goals on 40 shots against the Penguins. Holtby was screened on the first goal and didn’t have much of a chance on Sidney Crosby’s power play goal, but he was unscreened on goals by Beau Bennett and James Neal. “I’d like to give Holts a chance to maybe bounce back tomorrow and get another [start,]” Oates said, “but we’re still deciding because we have as split on the weekend.” If Holtby starts on Friday look for Michal Neuvirth to get the call on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night in Toronto.
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Green ready to go: Defenseman Mike Green participated in a full practice on Thursday and is expected to return to the lineup Friday after missing three games with a lower body bruise. The Caps will need to make a roster move to make room for Green, which means Dmitry Orlov or Tyson Strachan likely will be assigned to Hershey. Strachan averaged just under 20 minutes and was a minus-1 in place of Green. “He’s played well,” Oates said. “Tough decision.” Strachan and Orlov can be assigned to Hershey without having to clear waivers. Under the guidelines of the CBA, a callup needs to play 10 NHL games before needing to clear waivers on re-assignment.
Second line changes?: Oates said he is considering a slight tweak to his second line, possibly moving Marty Erat to center and Brooks Laich to left wing. The line, which has Troy Brouwer on the right, has combined for four even-strength goals this season. We’ll have more on this, along with what's bothering Laich, in a post later today.
Ovi’s take: Alex Ovechkin said he wants to “move forward” from Wednesday night’s lopsided loss to the Penguins, a game in which he generated a season-low two shots. “It was a kind of night where we give them everything,” Ovechkin said. “I don’t think we were physical on their top two lines. We gave them freedom and that’s what it’s all about.”