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.
Apr 24, 2014, 3:16 PM EDT
“It’s our puck battles. It’s our willingness to play in those areas and make it a tough game. “
Apr 24, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT
Kings captain will play on the top line for tonight’s elimination game.
Apr 24, 2014, 2:16 PM EDT
“Since March 20, 2011, I’ve been a changed player. I’ve approached the game differently. I think differently about the game.”
Apr 24, 2014, 1:07 PM EDT
Mikael Granlund became only the fifth NHL player in the last 75 years to score his first career playoff goal in a 1-0 overtime game.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT
3-4 month timetable for recovery.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
Seems like a good thing to write about after last night’s game in Columbus.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT
His first start of the series.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT
“They played hard, but for us it was more what we weren’t doing than what they were doing.”
Apr 24, 2014, 11:43 AM EDT
Detroit hosts Boston at the Joe tonight.
Apr 24, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT
Toews won it last year, Bergeron the year before that.
Apr 24, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT
Would be his series debut, and first game since the Sochi Olympics.
Apr 24, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT
Will Andersen or Hiller start in Game 5?
Apr 24, 2014, 9:01 AM EDT
“I think he likes the big stage.”
Apr 24, 2014, 8:04 AM EDT
Elsewhere, Detroit will play Boston and Colorado will face the Wild.
Apr 24, 2014, 1:59 AM EDT
The Blackhawks gave the Blues a taste of their own medicine.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:52 AM EDT
Another memorable moment for the American star.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT
The NFL defensive back strategy.
Apr 23, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT
Nice gesture … bad sign?
Apr 23, 2014, 11:04 PM EDT
Nick Foligno called his goal ahead of time.
Apr 23, 2014, 10:50 PM EDT
Just a nightmarish evening for Anaheim.
- Bylsma rips Penguins, calls effort level ‘troubling’ 0
- Cooke: I didn’t intend to collide knee-on-knee with Barrie 42
- On ‘score effects,’ and the challenges of playing with the lead 6
- MacKinnon: Avs ‘shut ourselves down’ in Game 3, not Wild 22
- Bergeron, Kopitar and Toews named Selke finalists 26
- Report: Zetterberg to return to Detroit lineup tonight (Update: Game-time decision) 56
- Kane’s OT goal ties Blackhawks – Blues series at 2-2 34
- Stars chase Andersen, tie series with Ducks 2-2 20
- Penguins blow three-goal lead, Columbus evens series 94
- NHL suspends Matt Cooke for seven games 104
- Video: Seabrook ejected for charging Backes; will face hearing (update) (153)
- Bad luck strikes twice: Lightning goal waved off, Stamkos takes knee to head (137)
- Keith doesn’t remember if he taunted Backes after Seabrook hit (125)
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind (118)
- Flyers want to ‘punish’ McDonagh (113)