Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | Arena: Capital One Arena | TV: TSN4 | Radio: Fan 590

Game Day Quotes

Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz labels the Leafs “an elite team”:

They’re a good hockey team. I mean, the growth of Auston Matthews for instance. If he was playing 20 years ago, we’d be saying he’s Mario Lemieux-like. He’s 6’5, he skates great, he’s got unbelievable hands, he’s strong on the puck.

And then you throw in the Marners and all of the young guys that they have. You add a Patty Marleau. They’re four lines. They’re relentless with the offense. When they’re playing their two-way game, they’re relentless, too. They’ve got tonnes of team speed.

If you want to trade chances with the Toronto Maple Leafs, I know who is winning that. They’re an exciting, young team. They can make plays. They’ve got a good power play. They’ve got some really good role players in the Komarovs and Hymans and the Connor Browns of the world.

They’re real solid. They’ve got a good goalie in Andersen. They’ve got a couple of dynamic guys on the backend. I said it last year that they’re a top-level team, an elite team. They’re just showing it; that’s all.

Connor Carrick on the performance of his pairing with Andreas Borgman versus Montreal and what they’re looking to do going forward:

Ideally, you want to be gapped up so their rush game is irrelevant and their dumps aren’t strong. They’re not able to play with speed and they’re usually forechecking with less than their full unit of five guys. If you can do those things up ice, you can make your job easier from the goal line out. When they were able to put it in, I thought Borgy and I were able to talk it out most of the time with the goaltender and our centermen and usually come out with the puck clean off the wall.

Sometimes, as a defenceman, unless you’re really playing that bona fide role where you’re on the power play and you’re getting a tonne of touches, a good, quiet, efficient game is a good one. It’s kind of like golf that way — take your pars and go home. You want to be making plays, be nice and quiet. When you get the opportunity… Borgy made some plays offensively and had some good looks — the one to Brownie in the slot — and we had some good zone time together where he was open and got some nice shots off.

I think that should be our brand: Hard to play against gap-wise, efficient out of our own end, and then offensively, simple but effective.

Carrick on the learning experience for the team in last year’s playoff series versus Washington:

They’re a good team. They’ve been one of the powers in the East for some years now. They’ve had some really strong, deep groups. I know they had higher expectations, but we gave them a lot and they ended up losing in the later rounds. With us, having the success we did against such a strong team, I think, was something we were able to build off of and say, “If each and every guy went home and was two plays better per game, what would the ice look like? How much could we tilt it in our favour the next time around?”

Trotz on Nicklas Backstrom’s amazing start to the season:

He’s been really good. Nick has been all business. He’s been our best player, no question, with balance in his game. Nick’s balance in his game is really good. That’s what makes him — I’m on my soapbox again — one of the best two-way centermen in the NHL. That’s no question. He is.

Trotz on his team’s slow defensive start:

We’ve got four guys in the top six in scoring in the NHL. I know we’ve played a game more than most teams, but I know we’re going to be able to score. We’ve just got to keep the puck out of our own end. We’re trading way too many chances.

We’re not as structured defensively. We haven’t put as big of an emphasis this year as we did last year. We put a little more emphasis on trying to replace some of the goals that we lost. Right now, we’ve got to get a little more balance. The foundation of our team has always been a little bit of the defense-first and you piggyback the offense off of that by having good structure. We’ve felt, with the young guys, we took a bit of a different approach in training camp. Now we’ve got to get it back into balance.

The foundation for our us is going to always be two-way play. That has to be. We’ve been top five defensively all three years, and one or two in the last two. It’s not that we haven’t done it. We’ve got some new guys and some of our concepts are a little different than what they’re used to. At the same time, certain concepts apply to every team.

Babcock on moving Mitch Marner to the fourth line in Monday’s practice:

Babcock: Obviously, we’ve got to have all of our units going. We’re trying to do that. It was a big win for us in Montreal – haven’t won there in a long time. In saying that, we didn’t think we generated a lot. We didn’t think they generated a lot. We thought we could be way better as a team, so we’ve got to find a way to be better. As you know, Washington kicked us out of the playoffs last year and they’re a good team. They’re going to be tough for us, so we’ve got to be ready.

What’s the biggest challenge for a guy like Marner defensively as he moves forward in the NHL?

Babcock: Let’s not read too much into it. Their line wasn’t going. Tie goes to the veteran. How’s that? He just happens to be the kid on the line. That’s it.

Matchup Stats

GF/g5.2 (1st)3.67 (9th)
GA/g3.8 (29th)3.67 (25th)
PP%30.8% (1st)30% (2nd)
PK%79.2 (20th)76.9% (22nd)
Shots/g37.4 (4th)34.2 (8th)
Shots Against/g31.6 (15th)34.5 (22nd)
5v5 CF%55.8% (7th)46.2% (24th)
5v5 SV%.886 (29th).910 (21st)
5v5 SH%13.1% (3rd)14.8% (1st)

Toronto Maple Leafs Leafs Projected Lineup

Hyman – Matthews – Nylander
Marleau – Kadri – Leo
van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Brown
Martin – Moore – Marner

Gardiner – Zaitsev
Rielly – Hainsey
Rosen – Carrick


Scratched: Borgman, Fehr, Leivo

Washington Capitals Projected Lineup

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Vrana
Burakovsky – Backstrom – Oshie
Connolly – Graovac – Wilson
Smith-Pelly – Beagle – Chiasson

Orpik – Bowey
Djoos – Carlson
Orlov – Chorney


Injured: Niskanen

Game Day: Babcock, Moore, Komarov, Nylander, Matthews