Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
We’re still in the honeymoon of this relationship, with the Capitals unbeaten at 3-0-2 as they open their three-game Western Canadian swing against the Edmonton Oilers tonight. Yet it seemed fitting to ask Trotz, Washington’s fifth head coach since Ovechkin entered the league in 2005, how he plans to get the 51 goals out of his superstar winger, but shore up the minus-35 defensive rating.
“Dominik Hasek used to say, a star player starts each year at minus-10,” began the coach, referring to the desperate situations near the end of games, when a team goes all out to score and so often gives a goal up. Or the fact that the best players face the best competition, and thus, are bound to surrender more goals than someone playing against the other team’s fourth line.
“So star players start out at minus-10. How (Ovechkin) got the other minus-25, I’m not quite sure,” Trotz said with a laugh. “There are some things in his game that he is committed to change. Not all of (his deficiencies) were Alex’s fault. Some of the things he was asked to do, it probably took away from him defensively. The player that I know has been very good in all those areas.”
Normally in a column about Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals, it’s right around now where one points out that nothing this club does in the regular season matters anymore.
from Alex Prewitt of the Capitals Insider,
The summer signings of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik came with intended secondary consequences for the Washington Capitals, trickling down to the rest of the defensive corps.
The expected logjam at the depth chart’s bottom has somewhat been sorted already, with Nate Schmidt starting the past three games, John Erskine and Jack Hillen taking healthy scratches, and a host of once-NHLers returning to Hershey.
The Capitals also wanted to even out their blue line ice time, a difficult proposition last season given the league-high 14 defensemen who played. Now, with a top five defined from the moment Niskanen and Orpik signed their deals, the players see a welcome balance.
“I think that’s the luxury that we have now,” defenseman Karl Alzner said.
Tough night for Schneider.
“It’s just such great theater. The bar keeps getting raised, and we’ll have a couple of unique things to D.C. I’m sure we’ll do something important with the military. Hopefully we can get President Obama to come. It’s Chicago, it’s Washington, it’s national television. I’m hoping that we can get President Obama to come to the game.”
-Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals on the Winter Classic. More from Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog.
Would you call this embellishment or a dive by Alex Ovechkin?
Below a recap of how the NHL will handle the diving/embellishment this year...
“They come down from the lake country of Canada, these tough young men with dentures and the quick eye for the girls. Most could skate as early as they walked, and their first flirtation with hockey was whacking a horse apple down a snow-covered street, the way an American kid would kick a can.”
That is how the Washington Post described hockey to their readers 40 years ago. (The Caps first season)
More from Sarah Larimer of DC Sports Bog at the Washington Post.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
They came into the league out of the ashes of a soul-sucking lockout that scuttled an entire season and got the kind of fanfare that precedes players maybe once in a generation.
They were asked to do nothing less than restore hope and guide the NHL into a new future, a new golden age of hockey.
So on many levels, it's hard to argue that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin haven't delivered on those demands in spades, time and time again.
"They're still the face of the league. For sure they are," said one longtime NHL player who has worked at a number of positions with a number of teams around the league.
Between them, Crosby and Ovechkin have collected five Hart Trophies and six Ted Lindsay Awards as the players' MVP in the past eight seasons. And then there's Crosby's Stanley Cup ring and two Olympic gold medals.
"That's not going away," the source said of the two players' accomplishments, regardless of whatever issues assail their respective franchises.
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
“My expectation is that because this is a world-class organization with great talent, that if we don’t make the playoffs, we’ll all be disappointed,” Leonsis said. “As I mentioned before, I can’t name a single team that’s won the Stanley Cup without making the playoffs.”
Stanley Cup notwithstanding, the new-look Capitals have engendered a wide range of preseason predictions from reporters — three of eight Sports Illustrated writers slotted Washington into the playoffs, for instance – and Leonsis said that might be such a bad thing for a new regime.
“I read all the hockey communiques, all the blogs, all the online stuff,” he said. “Not many people are even picking us to make the playoffs again. I’m not sure whether the players or coaching staff read that. I know some of our fans do. I have.
“Yeah, I think that could be positive. There aren’t a lot of expectations for us. Maybe there will be a different kind of pressure on the team, which is to prove experts wrong. But I think they’re in this for the right reason. They think they have a good team. They think we have good personnel and we haven’t achieved our goals. The first goal we have to reestablish is we have to make the playoffs.”
“I think we understand each other better.
“I think there was a little uneasiness coming in, but I think we’ve talked through everything. I don’t think there’s anything we haven’t really discussed in terms of what we need to do and why.
“We’re just starting the journey. We’re going to have some hard times; we’re going to have some good times. That’s the NHL season. It’s no different than a family. We’re starting to create a little bit of a family with our group and they’re all accountable to each other.
“Just like any family you’re not always going to be on the same page with your brothers and sisters. You still love them, but you may not agree with them all the time. We’ll have a couple of those days, but other than that we’ve made great strides.
“We have lots of work to do this year to get to where we want to be, but the foundation is there and that’s the most important thing. If you don’t have a foundation it will crumble, so we’ve been working hard on the foundation.”
-Barry Trotz, head coach of the Washington Capitals. More from Trotz by Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.
from chuck Gormley of CSNWashington,
Last week the Capitals rekindled an old tradition by roping off the logo on the carpeted floor of their Verizon Center locker room. Barry Trotz said the logo should be respected and considered sacred.
When the Capitals opened their Kettler Capitals Iceplex locker room to reporters over the weekend, a new message adorned the doorway: To Whom Much Is Given Much Is Expected.
The Red Wings have the same message in their locker room at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit and other NHL locker rooms employ other inspirational sayings.
In Toronto, the locker room slogan reads, “The price of success is hard work.” In Montreal, it’s “To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to hold it high.” In San Jose, it’s “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."
But there is something else new about the Caps’ locker room, thanks to the busy hands of Trotz.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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