A new season. A clean slate.
On that note, Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz has delivered something of an urgent message to his team, sensing that what happened in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs — going in as the Presidents’ Trophy winners and favored to finally capture a championship, only to lose again in the second round to rival Pittsburgh — is still having a negative affect several months later and with the start of a brand new season just days away.
Wins and losses don’t matter in the preseason, but the Capitals have scored only eight goals in six games, and that isn’t sitting well with the coach.
“If you talk to players, it’s been a little bit harder to get the energy this year based on how it ended and the summer,” Trotz told reporters on Saturday, per Sportsnet.
“We got stuck in last year’s energy or lack of at the end. It took a piece of us and now we’ve got to dust ourselves off here and go ‘Hey, you know what? It’s for real. Let’s get going. We’re professional. Let’s quit with the self pity and all that. Whatever’s holding us back, let’s go play because we can play.’”
The Capitals have been dominant during the regular season, with 101 points being their lowest total since Trotz took over behind the bench ahead of the 2014-15 season. Yet they have failed to advance out of the second round of the postseason in each of the last three years. Their most recent disappointment ushered in significant change to the roster, which was to be expected because of the number of pending unrestricted free agents they had in their lineup.
With the offseason changes, it’s possible Washington’s lineup gets younger this season — to that, it’s “step up time,” says Trotz — but the Capitals still have plenty of veteran talent on their team, and they should still be a difficult opponent in the Metropolitan Division.
“It’s been hard for us to come back right now and play hockey again,” said Ovechkin, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “Right now, it’s time to … forget about it and move forward. Obviously it’s hard but you have to do that if you want to get success in your life.”