3-on-3 Overtime: A Few More Data Points and Trotz’ Evolving Strategies

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*Photo: DailyHerald.com)

The Washington Capitals have now taken three bites from the new 3-on-3 overtime apple, and each time, gaining a little more wisdom along the way.  There’s never really been any question, this was going to take some time to figure out, and would be a learning process for everyone. Incrementally, Coach Trotz and the Capitals have tinkered and observed, methodically digesting the subtle and not so subtle nuances and intricacies that are involved with the new overtime format.

NoVa Caps took a look at the initial strategies employed by Trotz and the Caps following the first pre-season game. Now with three samples under our collective belts, and armed with a few additional data points, we wanted to revisit and see what we’ve learned, and how the overtime strategies utilized over the past week have evolved.

Hurricanes @ Capitals
The overtime period was quickly lost on a missed shot by Evgeny Kuznetsov. The shot bounced off the glass/wall and back up the ice, past the over-skating depth of Ovechkin and Kuznetsov. This immediately transitioned into a 3 on 1 break away for the Hurricanes, which lead to their goal, 52 seconds into overtime.  A video of the final sequence can be found here.

Lessons: shots must be on net.
Opinion: slap shots are not wise. Closer, more controlled shots are ideal.

Capitals @ Bruins
Also slated as a demonstration game by the NHL, this 3-on-3 period lasted all of 12 seconds.  This time Trotz put John Carlson, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky on the ice to start the overtime period, sticking to the two forwards and one defenseman philosophy.  Once again the Capitals overpursued on an initial chance off the face-off, giving the Bruins a 2 on 1 break away and the game winner. Video of the final sequence can be found here.

Lessons: over-pursuit kills.
Opinion: controlled entries key, work to the crease.

Capitals @ Canadiens
In this game Trotz decided to start the 3-on-3 action with more of a defensive, possession-gaining trio, going with Evgeny kuznetsov, John Carlson and Ryan Stanton.  It seemed that once the Caps were able to gain stable possession, Trotz then shifted to an offensive line with Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Dmitri Orlov.  This approach demonstrated a new philosophy that emerged from the previous two games. First gain possession, then deploy the offensive lines.  Unlike the previous two games, this overtime would go the distance, lasting the full five minutes without a score.

Lessons: gain control defensively, from the start,
Opinion: break-aways will happen, we like shootouts, now (Oshie/Kuzy)

In an interview with the Washington Post, ““We’re just trying to get a balance. We’re trying so hard to create offense. I don’t think you need to create offense off of three-on-three. It happens. I mean, it’s just going to happen. That’s probably the thing that I’ve come to realize in a short order here is that you don’t need to create offense, where we were trying to create offense right from the get go. And we were doing it, but you don’t need to. It’s going to happen.”

It will be interesting to see if this truly represents a shift in approach, or was just more experimental tinkering, but the approach seems to have merit.  We will need to see more before any concrete conclusions can be drawn.

Fans Opinion
NoVa Caps started this poll after Monday’s game against the Hurricanes. It’s been interesting to see how the numbers have migrated over the week.  We’ll provide some insight on that at the end of the pre-season as part of our 3-on-3 review wrap-up.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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