Trotz plans to reduce Ovechkin's power-play time this season
The winds of change continue to blow in Washington as new Capitals head coach Barry Trotz continues to put his fingerprints all over the way the roster is deployed. One big change this season will be a reduction in Alex Ovechkin's power-play time after he led the NHL last season in time on ice with the man advantage (5:02 per game) and power-play goals (24).
Trotz explained the decision to Mike Vogel of washingtoncaps.com:
Last year it was more of a necessity because you only had three guys who could do those things, essentially, at this level. Now we have four. With (Matt) Niskanen and (John) Carlson and (Mike) Green and him, there is no reason that he needs to stay out there for two minutes. I think we can have two good power plays on the back end, I think we’ll be more successful and I think he will have more pace in his game.
You start compounding a bunch of two-minute shifts and you don’t have that same zip. Instead of 10 two-minute shifts, I’d rather have 20 one-minute shifts or 27 45-second shifts. I guarantee you he’ll be faster, he’ll play faster and he’ll be more dangerous. The game is played faster now.
For his part, Ovechkin seems to be taking the adjustment in stride.
“If I’m staying there for two minutes or a minute and 50 or a minute 45,” says Ovechkin, “we’re just standing there. I’m pretty sure I feel fine. But it’s about what’s better for the team and what’s better for different guys who are sitting and waiting.”
Ultimately, Ovechkin continued, it's all about helping the team win when it matters most:
We’re just tired of not having success. This is my tenth year in the league and we made success only once, when we won the Presidents’ Trophy. And that’s it. After that, we don’t get any success because we lost in the first or second round. You can ask everybody right now and they’re tired of it. We have a great team and a good group of guys, solid players. We have to be together and be as a group and not be individuals or a small group of guys. We have to make results as a team.
Time will tell whether Trotz's tutelage will pay off with this group, but the Capitals will certainly be a team worth keeping a close eye on this season.