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.
Jun 30, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT
33-year-old had 14 goals and 38 points last year.
Jun 30, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT
Six goals in 57 games last season.
Jun 30, 2015, 11:53 AM EDT
More Boston news.
Jun 30, 2015, 11:43 AM EDT
The latest in an ongoing saga.
Jun 30, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT
Jun 30, 2015, 10:57 AM EDT
“This doesn’t keep me awake at night. Since the day we got Dougie Hamilton, I’ve had the best sleeps of the past few years. “
Jun 30, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT
With Antti Raanta gone, he’s now set as the backup’s backup.
Jun 30, 2015, 10:24 AM EDT
26-year-old defenseman has missed just one game over the last two years.
Jun 30, 2015, 10:23 AM EDT
It’s reportedly worth $2.9 million.
Jun 30, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT
They both finished in the top 10 in minutes in 2014-15.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:57 AM EDT
He made his NHL debut during the 2013-14 campaign before his career was derailed.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:03 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Jun 29, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT
He played with four different NHL teams last season.
Jun 29, 2015, 10:31 PM EDT
It’s not all about the Zac Rinaldo trade, although that certainly didn’t help.
Jun 29, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT
He establish himself with the team after years of work primarily in the AHL.
Jun 29, 2015, 8:26 PM EDT
San Jose still has an opening on its blueline.
Jun 29, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT
He’ll start the season as Vancouver’s backup goaltender.
Jun 29, 2015, 7:40 PM EDT
They are now set to become unrestricted free agents.
Jun 29, 2015, 6:43 PM EDT
He’ll reportedly earn $1 million next season.
Jun 29, 2015, 6:40 PM EDT
Toronto, Calgary and Pittsburgh are amongst the teams, which have reached out.
- Hurricanes to buy out Semin 0
- Bruins are talking to teams about Savard, but not Rask 1
- Report: Richards part of police investigation 12
- UFA of the Day: Mike Green 4
- Agent: Franson has spoken with ‘half a dozen’ teams (Updated) 8
- Your 2015 HHOF Class: Fedorov, Housley, Lidstrom, Pronger, Ruggiero 39
- Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder 103
- Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’ 88
- Sens’ Chiasson headed for arbitration 1
- Pricey Platoon? Stars reportedly sign Niemi for three years, $13.5M 19
- Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder (104)
- Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’ (88)
- Trade: Flames land Dougie Hamilton for package of picks (75)
- Trade: Busy Bruins send Lucic to Kings (66)
- Consensus reached: 5 minutes of 3-on-3 OT could be in place for 2015-16 (60)