The Caps have the number one seed.
First place is important because home ice is important. The Caps have all but sewn up first in the east with quite a bit to play. Because the Capitals are in this position, it is natural for the players to lose focus since there is less to play for. It also offers an opportunity for hurt players to play at a more relaxed pace so they are healthy for the playoffs.
Holtby tends to slump this time of year.
Don’t be concerned about this. This happens every year to Holtby. Then, when the playoffs start, he is back to being one of the best goaltenders in the world.
Ovi isn’t 100 percent.
Right now, it is pretty obvious to most that Ovi isn’t in top form. It could be a nagging injury or just the mental drain that an 82 game season has on players. While some may think that Beagle is on the top line to spark Ovi, the real reason might be two-fold. First, Beagle on the line means that Ovi doesn’t have to be the bull on that line, Beagle can do the heavy hitting, resting Ovi. Second, when Oshie does return to the top line, Ovechkin may get a boost. Oshie’s return would make them realize what they missed when a less dynamic Beagle was on the top line.
This team is even keeled, resilient.
Can you name the team that hasn’t lost back to back games in regulation? That’s right, it’s the Capitals. Why is that? It is because they don’t let bad losses faze them. After that horrible 5-0 loss to the Sharks following OviSleptGate, they had a team meeting to make sure the team was back to even. They have kept this consistency all year-long and is why they haven’t had long slumps like other contenders.
By now, everyone should know the mentality that Trotz has brought to the club. In addition to that, he does bring a keen mind to the game. Right now, he knows that the Caps have secured the top seed. He is using this time to many things.
First, he is experimenting with the defense to see how he will play them in the playoffs. He is especially testing out Brooks Orpik, to see if he will indeed be able to play on the top pairing when the time comes. Right now, Orpik needs playing time, as his guffaws on the third pairing have shown. He is also testing out Weber (at the expense of Chroney.) But do not be surprised to see Chorney with Orlov is neither Weber, nor Orpik outplay him.
Second, he is testing out forward lines as well. While we probably will not see Beagle on the top line come playoff time, Trotz is thorough enough to try different lineups and see if one of them might be something to consider come playoff time.
Finally, Trotz can use a loss to reset the focus of his team. The playoffs are not a sprint, nor a marathon, they are a grind.
By Lincoln Cajulis