Washington suffered its worst defeat of the season on Saturday, a 5-1 drubbing in Carolina that head coach Barry Trotz summed up rather succinctly.
“You’ve got to play smarter,” he said, per the Washington Post. “We didn’t do that.”
On Monday, Trotz set about smartening up his team.
There were radical line changes at Kettler this morning, with the most notable being Jay Beagle‘s ascension to No. 1 center duties alongside Alex Ovechkin. Nicklas Backstrom was between Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie, while Evgeny Kuznetsov skated in the middle on a line with Zach Sanford and Justin Williams.
To be fair, complacency was predicted to be an issue for the Caps this year.
After last year’s terrific run through the regular season, the club once again fell short of its ultimate goal and failed to get out of the second round — a signature of the Alex Ovechkin era in D.C.
As such, there’s a real “just get to the playoffs already” vibe in Washington. The club’s in no danger of missing them — despite the uneven play, the Caps are still 9-4-1 to start the year — so moments like today could be Trotz’s way of keeping his players on their toes.
Today’s moves could be more than a wake-up call, however. Trotz may be looking to coax more offense out of the team, as the Caps currently sit 16th in the NHL in goals per game (2.64).