Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/05/13 at 04:17 PM ET
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Considering the depth of the change Oates is undertaking, it is easy to believe him when he insists progress is being made despite being in last place in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
After beating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 last Friday for their second win of the season, the Caps played well enough against the powerful Pittsburgh Penguins but lost 6-3 on Sunday. They will get a chance to show they are on the right track Tuesday night against a team more in their weight class, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Capitals may be last place in the NHL’s Eastern Conference less than two years after finishing first but what Oates is doing is necessary – the star system that allowed Ovechkin to do as he pleased was doomed in a league where coaches and systems are king. While Ovechkin enjoyed three consecutive seasons of 50 goals or more, the Capitals were tearing up the regular season as well, culminating with 54 wins and the Presidents’ Trophy for finishing first overall in 2009-10. But when the other teams got serious about checking in the playoffs, Ovechkin was easily shut down and the Caps were gone in the first or second round.
Hence the arrival of Oates toting the anti-star defensive system he learned as an assistant coach with the quintessential team-first franchise, the New Jersey Devils. He summed up his philosophy the other day when someone asked how Ovechkin was going to score amid his increased defensive expectations.
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