Jan 14, 2013, 12:56 PM EST
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.
Dec 19, 2014, 9:02 AM EST
Although he feels this should serve as “a wake-up call for Berra.”
Dec 19, 2014, 8:02 AM EST
The picture is of former referee Don Van Massenhoven, who will serve as the event’s recorder.
Dec 19, 2014, 1:33 AM EST
These things happen.
Dec 19, 2014, 1:10 AM EST
But they did score more than two goals in a game for first time since Nov. 28.
Dec 19, 2014, 12:35 AM EST
Because everyone likes a snack before they line up for a faceoff, right?
Dec 19, 2014, 12:31 AM EST
Last shift came early in the second period.
Video: Pacioretty taken to hospital, reportedly no hearing expected for Stoner after questionable hit
Dec 18, 2014, 11:49 PM EST
Montreal lost this game, as well.
Dec 18, 2014, 11:29 PM EST
This was a back-and-forth contest.
Dec 18, 2014, 10:52 PM EST
And Roberto Luongo’s victory ties him for 12th on the all-time list.
Dec 18, 2014, 10:29 PM EST
Dec 18, 2014, 10:15 PM EST
Left the game after the first period.
Dec 18, 2014, 9:26 PM EST
Has played five games since his return.
Dec 18, 2014, 8:51 PM EST
Dec 18, 2014, 7:44 PM EST
These two have a bit of a history.
Dec 18, 2014, 6:39 PM EST
He’ll be in the lineup when Pittsburgh takes on the Avs at home.
Dec 18, 2014, 6:33 PM EST
When Colorado takes on the Penguins at Consol.
Dec 18, 2014, 6:07 PM EST
Journeyman tough guy is back playing in North America.
Dec 18, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
So says Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who witnessed James Neal’s cannonball on Saturday.
Dec 18, 2014, 5:05 PM EST
The Kings have lost five of their last six.
Dec 18, 2014, 4:12 PM EST
For a sixth-round pick.
- Video: Pacioretty taken to hospital, reportedly no hearing expected for Stoner after questionable hit 19
- Video: Canadiens honor long-time captain Saku Koivu 2
- Crosby back for Pens after missing three games with the mumps 1
- Comparing the shot differentials of all 30 teams 10
- PHT interviews Jim Nill, who’s ‘not surprised’ by Stars’ early-season struggles 2
- Mark Howe on his father’s health: ‘He’s back in the ballgame’ 3
- Holland: ‘I’m not against fighting’ 8
- Preds’ Neal fined for diving 25
- After surprising start, Flames sign Hartley to multi-year contract extension 5
- Update your wallcharts: Rangers confirm Brassard has mumps 11