The Washington Capitals had several things that ailed them last season and those things caused them to miss the playoffs. New head coach Barry Trotz seems very confident that he can fix what ailed the Washington Capitals. In a recent interview with NHL.com, Barry Trotz shared his thoughts on what he must do to fix the Washington Capitals.
“[Trotz's friends around the league involved with other teams] would say [when playing the Washington Capitals], ‘Don’t let them score on the rush. Don’t let their forwards freewheel. Take away time and space. They don’t do much around the net. They’re not very physical. They don’t block shots.’ It was good information, and now I’ve got to get it changed. I know I can.”
They hit the nail on the head. The Washington Capitals were not physical last season. Perhaps that is why Barry Trotz likes Tom Wilson so much? They also didn’t block shots, which might be why Trotz wanted to keep Brooks Laich and part of the reason why the Capitals went out and got Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Trotz also shed some light on another thing that he hopes to fix:
“People tend to think because I’ve come to Washington that I’m going to stand back, and I hate that,” Trotz said. “In Nashville I was known as a defensive coach because my star players were a goalie and a defenseman. We had to play to our strength.”
Trotz still urged the defensemen in Nashville to carry the puck up the ice. He wants to see the same from the Capitals defensemen, particularly Matt Niskanen, John Carlson and Mike Green. That’s in contrast to the system Washington played under former coach Adam Oates.
Trotz said he was stunned to learn 14.2 percent of the Capitals’ goals last season came from defensemen. Washington was tied for 15th in the NHL for goals scored by defensemen with 32. By comparison, the Predators were first with 52 goals, including 23 from Weber.
“We were probably always in the top-five [in goals] from the back end, and a lot of people can’t name more than two or three of the forwards we had,” Trotz said of his time with the Predators. “With the forwards I have in Washington, I hope to keep their offensive production very high and add some more offense from the back end.”
That explains why the Washington Capitals spent so much money to get Niskanen. Barry Trotz has found the diagnosis of the illnesses that kept the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs last season. That’s the first step to recovery. Now Trotz must treat those illnesses.