Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz met with reporters Tuesday to talk about last night’s win and tomorrow night’s epic Game 7. The team was off on Tuesday to rest up and will take to the Kettler ice Wednesday morning for a skate before hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night.
One of the biggest storylines over the last two games was Alex Ovechkin getting placed on the third line, but over the last two games, the move has shown some positive dividends. Trotz was first asked about that topic.
“When you’re in the playoffs, you want to do what’s right for the group. We wanted to spread our scoring out and get a couple of guys going so when you ask a player, especially at playoff time, there’s not a lot of pushback, because of the fact that they just want to win,” said Trotz. “Alex is our captain. He understands the importance of us trying to make good decisions so he’s good with it. It’s a bit of an adjustment for him, but it’s been a bigger deal to the media and the outside sources than it is to Alex or anybody in our room.”
Trotz believed the way Ovechkin is handling this role sends a big message to the group.
“One of the things about being a captain is you have to worry about everybody else first to be a good captain. Alex is doing that, he’s worrying about everyone else first. He wants to win with this group and he’ll do whatever is asked of him to win with that group and that’s one of the strongest messages a captain can make to his teammates. Whatever is asked of him he’ll do it for the better of this group or the better of this situation in a playoff round,” said Trotz.
Trotz was then asked about Nicklas Backstrom, who had a goal and an assist in last night’s Game 6 win. We all know that Backstrom doesn’t get the type of recognition that others get, but here’s what Trotz had to say:
“I think Backy is one of those guys who’s one of the most underrated players in the National Hockey League. I don’t know why people don’t talk about him more. He probably gets angry when I talk about him. You talk about a player who has fire, he has that quiet fire. He is very competitive, his hockey IQ and his ability to make plays and do things on the ice is complete, but he doesn’t get enough credit for how competitive he really is. Playoffs bring the best out of people and you’re seeing how competitive he is.”
Trotz was then asked about how his team has responded to adversity, both in last round’s 2-1 deficit and this round’s 3-1 deficit, and on how he can get his team to play another full 60-minute game for Game 7.
“I think you have to understand that we’re going to see, probably for the first time this series, that Pittsburgh has their back against the wall as well. You’re going to see their best game, their most desperate game of this series, and we still have our back against the wall so I don’t know if there’s anything that we need to say,” added Trotz. “We got ourselves in position to give ourselves the opportunity to continue to play hockey. Other than that, yesterday’s game, the momentum, the score, nothing really translates into Game 7. It’s a solo amenity and if we want to keep playing we have to play our best.”
Trotz later said that he will likely go with the same lines from the previous two games for Game 7.
“Sometimes you have to try (to mix things up like the lines from Game 5-6) because if you don’t try (to make changes) then you may regret it in the end,” said Trotz. “I’d rather try to do something than regret something that I should’ve done before.”
The conference call concluded with Trotz being asked about the difference between this Game 7 and getting over the hump. Trotz downplayed the past postseason failure history, which if you’ve listened to his remarks all season comes as no surprise. Leave the past behind, you can’t change it. Only thing you can focus on is the game and the opportunity that lies ahead.
“Well I don’t know if there’s any hump to get over. If you look and watch that Rangers game (from 2015’s Eastern Conference semifinals), we played extremely well. I just think that with this group that I’ve been with, Game 7’s have been pretty solid. You’re not gonna win every one, but I thought our game was really good in both of those Game 7’s (from 2015),” said Trotz.
By Michael Marzzacco