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Trotz Hopes to Return Capitals to NHL Playoffs

Barry Trotz the new head coach for the Washington Capitals has researched why the Capitals did not make the NHL postseason last season and believes he has found the reason and can turn the club’s fortunes around.

Last season Washington was 38-30-14 with 90 points finishing fifth in the Metropolitan Division and 9th in the Eastern Conference, one place short of the playoffs.

In the offseason, the Capitals have added Chris Conner a forward, Brooks Orpik a defenseman, Matt Niskanen and defenseman and Justin Peters a goalie.

The Capital lost Jaroslav Halak, Tyson Strachan and Mikhail Grabovski during the offseason.

Trotz has asked his colleagues and friends in the NHL to tell him what they told their players prior to facing Washington in the past few seasons.

The discoveries Trotz made have given the Capitals coach an indication as to the reasons why Washington did not make the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013-14.

The new Washington coach said the replies he received were quite consistent. They told him do not let Washington score on the rush. Do not allow their forwards to freewheel. Take away their space and time. They are not strong near the net. They are not physical. They are not shot blockers.

All those things that opposing coaches or assistants told the Washington Capitals opponents prior to playing against them, are what helped prevent the team from making the playoffs, Now Trotz must make changes related to those responses.

Trotz started with his captain, Alex Ovechkin. He does not want to limit his offensive ability. However, he wants his captain to play a game that is 200 feet. Trotz says he has noticed a great deal of glide in his captain’s game and said his production at 5 on 5 must improve.

Ovechkin scored 51 goals in 2013-14, but 24 were on the power play. Over his last 22 games of the season, Ovechkin scored just one goal at even-strength.

Trotz speaks highly about Ovechkin being so dangerous with open ice. However, he has found him standing around a great deal on film making him easier to cover yet he still scored 51 goals, added Trotz.

Trotz wants some of the scoring pressure to be taken off Ovechkin by having his defensemen play roles that are bigger on the offense.

Trotz while at Nashville urged his defensemen to carry the puck up the ice. That is what he wants from the Washington defensemen, in particular John Carlson, Mike Green and Matt Niksanen.

This is in complete contrast to the Washington system that was played when Adam Oates coached the club.

Trotz was amazed when he heard that only 14% of the goals scored last season were by the defensemen. That was 15th in the league with just 32, while the Nashville Predators scored 52.

Trotz brought Mitch Korn the goalie coach for Nashville with him to Washington and hopes Korn can get starting goalie Braden Holtby’s game to where it was a few seasons ago. Justin Peters has been brought in to back Hotlby up.

Trotz says he wants to take the club back to the playoffs, but not be content with reaching the first or even second round, but trying to win the Stanley Cup.

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