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.
Mar 1, 2015, 11:30 PM EST
Winnipeg moves three points back of Chicago in the Central Division.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:50 PM EST
Malkin had a third straight three-point game.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:05 PM EST
He collided with Ales Hemsky.
Mar 1, 2015, 9:15 PM EST
The Washington forward remains in the game.
Mar 1, 2015, 8:30 PM EST
The Sharks get a fourth-round pick.
Mar 1, 2015, 8:00 PM EST
Both teams also swapped draft picks in the deal.
Mar 1, 2015, 7:36 PM EST
Dallas looking to snap a five game skid.
Mar 1, 2015, 7:06 PM EST
He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:45 PM EST
Both are free agents after this season.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:35 PM EST
It started with a Matt Greene hit on Mark Scheifele.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:15 PM EST
The Pens’ captain was unharmed on the play.
Mar 1, 2015, 5:56 PM EST
He’s 14 back of Marcel Dionne.
Mar 1, 2015, 4:20 PM EST
All the blockbuster details have been updated.
Mar 1, 2015, 3:38 PM EST
Sunday’s expected starting goalies.
Mar 1, 2015, 3:02 PM EST
Could Philly move him by Monday?
Mar 1, 2015, 2:22 PM EST
The Islanders winger was February’s best first-year player.
Mar 1, 2015, 1:16 PM EST
A decent catch for a rising team.
Mar 1, 2015, 12:55 PM EST
Winnipeg faces Los Angeles on Sunday.
Mar 1, 2015, 12:34 PM EST
Mar 1, 2015, 12:21 PM EST
A quick rundown of waiver transactions on Sunday.
- Trade: Rangers land Yandle, Coyotes receive Duclair, first-rounder 65
- Trade: Capitals land Glencross, Flames get two picks 23
- Flames place Giordano on IR 5
- Flyers keep faint playoff hopes alive with win over Rangers 28
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder 73
- Jagr earns high praise in his Panthers debut 1
- Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss 5
- NHL on NBC: Rangers look for a fourth straight win against the Flyers 7
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 9
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 13
- Wild beat Avs, dying seconds fight set stage for rematch (146)
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder (74)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)