Good read here, by NBC Washington’s Adam Vingan, on what playing well defensively means to new Capitals coach Barry Trotz. Because it’s not just about blocking shots and making sure everyone’s in the right positions when the other team has the puck. The main goal of playing good defense is to get the puck back, and to do it as quickly as possible.
“I’m going to tell the players, when you have the puck, I want you to make good decisions and I want you to score some goals and I want you to be hard on people and the puck,” Trotz said. “And if you don’t have it, I want to get it back again so we can re-attack.
“That’s good defense. Defense is about getting the puck quickly so you can do something offensively.”
Got it? Good. Now here’s what Jonathan Toews said after he helped Canada win gold at the Olympics: “As soon as we didn’t have possession, we were working so hard to get it back. We had some skilled, skilled forwards and d-men, but everyone was committed to playing a defensive game, and we created offense off it.”
So, basically the same thing Trotz said.
New Caps general manager Brian MacLellan added this: “It’s not going to be one individual working hard and the others watching. It’s going to be five guys working in sync together hard.”
Which, of course, brings us to Alex Ovechkin. Not because he’s the only Capital who needs to play better defensively — far from it — but he does play big minutes, and he is the captain. He’ll need to be on board with what Trotz is selling.
Oh, and just because Ovechkin is a winger, that doesn’t mean he can’t play his part in getting pucks back. Just look at what Marian Hossa does for Chicago, if you want to see what a winger can do defensively.
“Scoring goals is fun, but I think it’s just as fun to steal the puck,” said Hossa.
Now all Trotz has to do is convince the Capitals.