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 27, 2015, 2:55 PM EDT
Can they stay healthy?
Aug 27, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT
“I’m fully aware that at some point in time we may have to address that position.”
Aug 27, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
At which time he’ll be reevaluated.
Aug 27, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT
The two have a bit of a history, as you may recall…
Aug 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
It’s a benchmark he’s never hit before.
Aug 27, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT
The 21-year-old looks like he’ll be counted upon heavily.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:48 AM EDT
For a border incident that occurred in mid-June.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
A first round exit has led to a busy summer.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links.
Aug 26, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT
Development coach Patrick Rissmiller is among New Jersey’s latest additions.
Aug 26, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT
His conditioning comes on the ice, not in the weight room.
Aug 26, 2015, 6:40 PM EDT
Two terrible seasons didn’t dissuade fans expecting brighter days ahead.
Aug 26, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT
Philadelphia has a great core, but does it have the depth?
Aug 26, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Tanking isn’t likely, yet may it be wise?
Aug 26, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT
It would be wise to stick to Ron Hextall’s plan, but it’s not exactly Philly’s style.
Aug 26, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
With big raises come big expectations.
Aug 26, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT
Still not totally closing the door.
Aug 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
He’s part of Philadelphia’s wave of impressive young defensemen.
Aug 26, 2015, 9:41 AM EDT
Can he impress in training camp?
Aug 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Craig Berube’s second season as a head coach didn’t go as planned.
- Mike Richards charged with possession of controlled substance 65
- Gio won’t go: Flames extend Giordano for six years, $40.5M 13
- Pens’ plan for now: Crosby starts as Kessel’s center 25
- O, Dear: Russia fined $85K for skipping Canadian anthem 28
- Kings ink Ehrhoff to a one-year, $1.5 million deal 27
- Quebec City, Vegas advance to final phase of NHL expansion process 50
- Here’s the full NHL 2015 preseason schedule, starting Sept. 20 5
- Wild assistant Sydor arrested for suspected drunk driving, child endangerment 30
- It’s Montreal Canadiens day at PHT 14
- Capitals’ biggest question: Is this finally the year? 32
- Mike Richards charged with possession of controlled substance (65)
- Quebec City, Vegas advance to final phase of NHL expansion process (50)
- Editorial rips Flames’ request for ‘ludicrous amount of taxpayer support’ to build arena (45)
- Capitals’ biggest question: Is this finally the year? (32)
- It’s Philadelphia Flyers Day at PHT (31)