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.
May 22, 2013, 2:07 PM EDT
Go have your say.
May 22, 2013, 1:55 PM EDT
He’s expected to be a top-5 pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
May 22, 2013, 11:59 AM EDT
Club says he suffered no injuries.
May 22, 2013, 11:35 AM EDT
His contract with the Coyotes is up June 30.
May 22, 2013, 11:10 AM EDT
Bold, but familiar move from Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean.
May 22, 2013, 10:45 AM EDT
Veteran defenseman spent 15 years in the league.
May 22, 2013, 10:34 AM EDT
Pending RFA not expected to re-sign with Jets.
May 22, 2013, 10:17 AM EDT
If they were, it would add fuel to the speculation that the team might relocate to Quebec City.
May 22, 2013, 9:52 AM EDT
He doesn’t have a goal in eight postseason contests.
May 22, 2013, 9:06 AM EDT
It’s not clear if they will be available on Thursday.
May 22, 2013, 8:02 AM EDT
The match starts at 7:30 p.m. ET.
May 22, 2013, 7:13 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
May 22, 2013, 2:59 AM EDT
He was pretty good.
May 22, 2013, 2:23 AM EDT
Series tied 2-2.
May 22, 2013, 1:29 AM EDT
You be the judge.
May 22, 2013, 1:07 AM EDT
An apology was issued.
May 22, 2013, 12:54 AM EDT
Turning into a heck of a series.
May 22, 2013, 12:21 AM EDT
Lots happening in this one. More highlights coming, by the way.
May 21, 2013, 11:26 PM EDT
Been dealing with plenty of traffic in front of him all throughout playoffs.
May 21, 2013, 11:14 PM EDT
Does the league take a look at this?
- Question for commenters: What, if anything, needs to be done about the officiating? 0
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- Video: Kings denied a goal after quick whistle 27
- Tweet from L.A. Kings Twitter account stirs controversy 47
- Discuss: Sharks take Game 4, even semifinal series against Kings 13
- Discuss: Bruins rally in third, take 3-0 series lead 95
- Video: Callahan gets away with high-sticking Chara 28
- Playoffs Tonight: Kings look for ‘killer instinct’ against Sharks 10
- Brother says Patrick Roy will be Avs’ head coach 21
- Video: Controversy colors Blackhawks goal, disallowed score 58
- Discuss: Bruins rally in third, take 3-0 series lead (95)
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (91)
- Discuss: Detroit takes 2-1 series lead vs. Chicago (90)
- Bryzgalov thinks Stalin did a good job, wishes Philadelphia wasn’t so old, and believes poor people don’t want to work (80)
- McPhee says lack of power plays ‘didn’t feel right’; Torts says Washington is ‘whining’ (70)
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement
- Posnanski on Golf: Sergio shows disdain for Tiger
- OlyTalk: Coach K will lead Team USA in Rio Games
- PFT: Crabtree reportedly tears achilles, out for year
- HBT: Soriano calls out Harper after blown save
- PHT: Sharks take Game 4, pull even with Kings