Despite losing 2-1 in a shootout against Montreal, new head Coach Barry Trotz has plenty of positives to take away from Washington’s first game of the season.
The team’s off season additions Orpik and Niskanen put together a solid defensive performance. Orpik used his size to frustrate the Canadiens and draw penalties. Niskanen created chances, blocked shots and logged over 26 minutes of ice time. Captain Alex Ovechkin had several chances but couldn’t find the back of the net. Rookie Andre Burakovsky scored a goal in his debut and impressed the coaching staff and the fans with his speed.
This team seems to be shifting to a new philosophy under Trotz. The new strategy involves a much faster breakout system and a much stronger, physical presence in the defensive end. This strategy is what helped the Capitals claim their first point of the regular season.
This team has tremendous scoring ability. Trotz will not have to waste time telling his players to shoot the puck more. All the Washington Capitals players aren’t afraid to shoot the puck from anywhere to try and get a goal. This simple mindset will make Trotz’s job a whole lot easier as the season progresses.
The challenge for Trotz will be trying to manage his team’s emotions. Ovechkin has been guilty of letting his emotions get the best of him at times. He took a careless penalty in the home opener already this season when he slashed Canadians forward Plekanec as he was entering the bench. Trotz will have to find a way to teach his players to do a better job resisting the urge to retaliate.
Regardless, Trotz will certainly enjoy having a player of Ovechkin’s calibre on his team. He’s very good at balancing his lines and getting the most out of his players. With the nerves gone, Trotz can now continue strengthening his team and finding a way to win games consistently. If goalie Braden Holtby can steal some wins from teams like the Boston Bruins or Pitsburgh Penguins, this Capitals team could end up challenging for a playoff spot.
I’m confident Ovechkin and Backstrom will be able to carry this team to success again this season. Troy Brouwer, Jason Chimera and Matt Niskanen will be leaned on to provide Trotz with some secondary scoring options.
The Capitals next game is against the Bruins on Saturday. I can’t wait to see if the Capitals can bounce back and steal some points from the Bruins.