Okay, so this isn’t exactly breaking news, but the past couple of years for Caps fans have been pretty erratic, so I feel the need to reiterate this point. All of D.C. is over dealing with the Caps’ identity crisis, which has lasted for about 3 years at this point. You could talk me into it being a life-long identity crisis, being that they’re without a cup, but that’s a debate for another time, and I’m only trying to talk about this recent crisis tied directly to the coaching carousel of late.
As a result of the Caps being able to enjoy consistency behind the bench for at least consecutive years, let’s talk about the best by-product the team and fans can expect from this awesome luxury.
Better Masking of Weaknesses
The Caps get to head into training camp, preseason, and the real season knowing exactly what type of system they are playing. They will undoubtedly play it better than last year, due to familiarity and whatnot.
Defense is the weakness of this team, with a subpar top 6 rotation of defensemen, and better familiarity with Oates’ system will help mask that weakness. Obviously, this isn’t the sole way you want to go about repairing deficiencies, we would rather see the team do that by upgrading personnel. Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, so this is kind of a bandaid lined with silver.
Oates’ system is predicated on pressure at the right times by all five skaters on the ice. So, with better familiarity, when the forwards are pressuring the puck as designed, it will relieve some of the pressure on the team’s defensemen. This will ideally give the team a better flow as a unit, and that gelling will lead to better overall team defense, thus masking the truth that the Caps blue-line unit isn’t all that beastly by itself.
Defense has been the number one problem for this era’s Caps team, and changing coaches every year only exacerbated the problem. With Oates back for another year, and hopefully many more in the future, the team confidence will grow. You could see team confidence was on the rise last year as the Caps rocketed towards the playoffs once they got going, and pretty much all of that was rooted in the confidence of the head coach himself. The abrupt halt in confidence in the playoffs was no head-scratcher either, because Oates was a rookie head coach in the playoffs, and you could see that he had a learning curve to combat. That trickled down to the team, and the rest is history. (I’m not saying Oates is the sole reason for the playoff loss.)
So, Caps fans, enjoy what might be an end to the identity crisis. We may be saved… from a coaching standpoint, at least. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.