Monday, November 02, 2015

A worker on every line

Coach Barry Trotz’s stated strategy to beat the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, after a sluggish start by the Caps, was to “put a worker on every line.” The Caps looked like they were skating in quicksand after playing the Columbus Blue Jackets the prior night.

To create a spark, Trotz broke up his hardest working trio of Jay Beagle, Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera and spread them among the top three lines. Those are not the only line changes he made as that spark happened early in the 3rd period when Beagle tied the game assisted by Alex Ovechkin and Justin Williams. The Caps won that game in overtime, thanks to the continued magic and hard work of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s offense, assisted by his fellow Russians Ovie and Dmitry Orlov. The Caps responded to their coach and won the game. That is encouraging.

Trotz is all about accountability and effort and that has been evident since he arrived in Washington last summer. He increases ice time when players play well and sends them to the press box when they are not playing the game the right way. That is polar opposite of the Coach Bruce Boudreau country club atmosphere days when the Caps players were more concerned about their activities off the ice.

The additions of T.J. Oshie and Williams this season and Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen last season show how serious General Manager Brian MacLellan is about fixing the problems the Caps have had getting past the 2nd round of the playoffs in the Ovechkin era. He has brought players to Washington that understand how team effort and team play are the most important qualities for winning championships in any professional sport. This group did not bring just their offensive and defensive skill to the Caps, which was also sorely needed, but they brought the leadership intangibles that teams need.

These recently acquired Caps, along with homegrown prospects like Tom Wilson, who is already exhibiting leadership qualities in his play and the words he says, and Kuznetsov, who is so humble in his interviews bodes well for the Caps. It take all of these parts, in addition to the highly skilled players, to make it work. With a couple of exceptions, it has also made the Caps fun to watch.

Let's go Caps!

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