Jan 14, 2013, 12:56 PM EDT
Every day until the season starts we’ll explore an intriguing storyline for the upcoming year.
The Washington Capitals have experienced something of an identity issue.
It’s not fair to call it a crisis — they’ve made the playoffs five straight years, after all — but maybe “conflict” is the right term.
Under Bruce Boudreau, offense reigned supreme until a series of postseason failures. After those, he vowed to make the team more defensively responsible while maintaining its offensive prowess.
Under Dale Hunter, it was all defense all the time. Guys often blocked more shots than they took.
Now it’s up to new head coach Adam Oates to (re?) establish what the Capitals are. Will they get back to Boudreau’s firewagon style, or stick to Hunter’s system?
The answer is “a little of both,” with a lot of teaching and tutorials in between, according to Braden Holtby.
“With Adam, I think everyone learns really quickly that he’s a very good instructor. Some coaches are motivational guys and what-not,” Holtby said. “Adam is very about the details and very technical, and that’s something you really appreciate as a professional because your job is to prepare yourself for games.
“What Adam wants to do is make sure we’re given the instruction to get better.”
Oates is pushing an entirely new strategy — a hybrid system implementing some of Hunter’s defensive techniques and some of Boudreau’s aggressive offensive approach.
In listening to Washington’s players, it seems two things are evident: 1) dump-and-chase hockey is out, and 2) skating, pressure and forcing turnovers is in.
“The system is great,” captain Alex Ovechkin told CBS Washington. “I’m excited. Everybody involved so you can create. It’s not like [dump] and chase like we played [under Hunter]. I’m excited.”
“We’ve scouted and played a lot of teams that play a somewhat similar system – New Jersey, Boston, L.A., Nashville,” added winger Matt Hendricks. “We’re going be a skating team within a very defensive structure. It’s an exciting brand of hockey. We’re going to force teams to turn the puck over.”
‘Skating’ is the buzzword out of Washington these days.
Oates’ emphasis is on pushing tempo and the need for speed, something he explained after icing a new-look top line of Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin — with No. 8 playing on right wing instead of his usual left.
“Ovi’s a very fast guy, put some speed on the other side,” Oates told the Washington Times. “Everybody’s pretty much played with each other and I think right now our top six can go with each other but I like the look of the line so far.”
The big question now? If enthusiasm and buy-in for Oates’ approach will happen fast enough. The Caps are at a disadvantage with the shortened training camp/season, as it gives them less time to figure out what their new head coach wants.
It’s something Oates recognizes.
“It’s a growing period,” he explained. “Hopefully we’re a strong enough team to get through that. I think we are.
“It’s tough in a short season to get through it, but that’s why you have to work to be good everywhere.”
For all the PHT Pressing Questions, click here.
Aug 1, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT
They averaged 3.38 goals per game in the postseason.
Aug 1, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT
They still might avoid the ruling though.
Aug 1, 2014, 10:06 AM EDT
Sunny Mehta wrote two books on the card game, but he’s turned his attention to advanced statistics in sports.
Aug 1, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
His relationship with Panthers GM Dale Tallon made a big difference.
Aug 1, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT
Will Los Angeles regret opting against a buyout?
Aug 1, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Taking a look at the 2014 champions on Friday.
Jul 31, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Lou Lamoriello says those SO struggles are “not a focus.”
Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
“It will help me down the road.”
Jul 31, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
Have fun making up captions with this one.
Jul 31, 2014, 7:39 PM EDT
The team estimates he’ll miss two weeks of on-ice training.
Jul 31, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT
The former first-rounder still needs to prove himself.
Jul 31, 2014, 5:18 PM EDT
The forward is already endearing himself to Blue Jackets fans.
Jul 31, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT
Ottawa’s offseason is receiving mixed reviews.
Jul 31, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT
He doesn’t know how to haggle.
Jul 31, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT
Dallas Stars version.
Jul 31, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT
Let’s make a big deal out of this, shall we?
Jul 31, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT
A “well-deserved” honor, according to Ed Snider.
Jul 31, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
Beginning with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Click for the full 30-team schedule.
Jul 31, 2014, 10:22 AM EDT
Brandon Sutter next?
Jul 31, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT
Went 12-15-6 with a .913 save percentage last season for Ottawa.
- Subban, Habs can’t agree to terms before arbitration hearing 11
- Flyers’ Mason broke his right pinky finger playing ball hockey 19
- Lindros, LeClair and Desjardins to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame 63
- It’s back! PHT’s Team of the Day summer series starts tomorrow 8
- Pens sign Spaling — two years, $4.4 million 13
- Agent: Subban hasn’t told me to make him NHL’s highest-paid D 31
- Devils sign Greene to five-year, $25M extension 18
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million 47
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ 59
- Gettin’ paid: Gardiner inks five-year, $20.25M extension with Leafs 15
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal (63)
- Lindros, LeClair and Desjardins to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame (63)
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ (59)
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million (47)
- Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center (45)