Early season trends
After watching the Washington Nationals bow out of the first round of MLB playoffs again, hockey moved up a notch in grabbing my attention, but just barely. It’s hard to get excited about hockey this early in the season, but time to notice some early season trends.
Coach Barry Trotz is focused on getting his team to play a faster game and he is making sure his star players, a la Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and T.J. Oshie do not play the same amount of minutes as they have in years past as written in the Washington Post. Ovie is 31 and has played an intense and hard hitting hockey game since he entered the league in 2005. The Caps finally surrounded him with better teammates, particularly, in the General Manager Brian MacLellan era, but the generational goal scorer of our time still does not have his name on a Cup and the window to do that is getting smaller so reducing ice time is a good move.
The early season surprise award goes to Marcus Johansson. 11 games into this season with his 6G and 5A, he has a bit over 25% of his point production from last year when he played 74 games and generated 46 points. Maybe Trotz’s focus on playing a quicker game fits MoJo’s speed. Let’s hope this trend continues.
T. J. Oshie continues to impress with his devotion to playing tough hockey. He gives 150% effort every night. His 6G, 1A, and +6 season is not bad and the determination he puts into scoring those points is what makes him a joy to watch. It is good to see the top line back together as Ovie, Oshie, and Backstrom make things happen on the ice. Ovie continues to rack up points, at 7G and 4A, undress defensemen, and score power play goals by using the same shot he has used to torch goalies for 11-years. That never gets old to watch.
There are plenty of other positive trends for future posts, but there are also concerning signs with this team even if it is just November. Vezina winning goalie, Braden Holtby, is not in his groove. A puck flies past him and he barely moves when it seems like he should have seen the shot. Holtby seems like the Vezina winner in some periods of some games, but, at other times, he is making stupid plays and seems out of it. Getting Holtby into his groove is critical for this team’s success.
The Caps losing focus during the game is another concerning trend. They play a good first period, then slack off in the second period and get burned. They go up 2-0 or 3-0 and let the Jets tie the game before stealing it away from them with a Jay Beagle goal with 34 seconds left or an Ovie overtime game winner. The Caps do not need to make it difficult on themselves.
But, lots more hockey to be played.
Let’s go Caps!