Capitals head coach Barry Trotz was a guest on 106.7 The Fan’s “Sports Junkies” on Wednesday morning. On the show, Trotz talked about a variety of topics including why he hasn’t placed Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin on the same line, Backstrom’s struggles, a comparison to his first season as the Caps bench boss, his Thanksgiving plans and even who he thinks will win the Redskins-Giants Thanksgiving Day game.
The first question Trotz was asked had to do with how he has yet to place Backstrom and Ovechkin on the same line. Backstrom is on the top line with T.J. Oshie while Evgeny Kuznetsov is on the second line with Ovechkin. Isabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post asked this question after yesterday’s practice.
Asked Trotz why the hesitation to reunite Ovechkin and Backstrom. Said there isn’t any. So, why hasn’t he done it?
“Just don’t feel like it.”
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) November 21, 2017
On why he hasn’t reunited Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin on the same line:
“Well I think they’ve been together for a long time. I think Kuzy (Evgeny Kuznetsov) is a guy that can add some speed to that group so with the losses of guys like Marcus Johansson and people like that who have that speed element that used to play on that line, we didn’t really have that so I put Kuzy in that position with Ovi to give them a bit more speed. The game has gotten a lot quicker so we felt that was necessary and then also the ability for someone else play with Ovi.”
Trotz would then add, “Ovi is not the easiest guy in the world to play with. Anytime you see Ovi at the World Championships or playing in different tournaments and the players who play with him, it’s hard to get some chemistry with him. He’s a difficult player to play with. Some players are naturally a little more mobile if you will and I think Ovi, the way he scores, he’s a little more instinctive.”
On Backstrom’s recent struggles including a goal-less drought since Oct. 14:
“The other night he had a couple of real good looks. I told him ‘you’re getting looks right now, it’s gonna happen. You’re not going to get that pretty goal, you’ll get the one that sort of leaks through the goalie’s pads. You’re getting looks so just stay with it’. He appreciated that, but I don’t think that does a lot when you’re a pro hockey player and you’re known for production and people are pointing to your production. I tried to lighten it up a bit but he’s a guy that will work through it, he’ll find a way. As I say, nothing is forever. We’ve talked about putting Backy and Ovi together for the last couple of games. We’re in a stretch now where we’re playing five games in eight nights this week so we are looking at different ways of getting people jump-started.”
On a roller coaster season thus far and the recent frustrations:
“I said to the guys yesterday that this seems a lot like my first year (coaching the Caps) in 2014-15. After 22 games (that season), we had 24 points. We’re sitting at 23 points right now and we’re only two wins from being in first place in our division so we’re right there. Parts of our game that we need to correct, like five-on-five, is consistency and our execution in our day-to-day work ethic. (In past seasons) I think some guys have been able to take a game off here or a game off there just maybe not being as good as they have been in the past and we’ve been able to win through our depth and our special teams. This year we don’t have that depth so we have to do it collectively as a group, we can’t have any passengers, so it’s going to be more demanding than it was my first year here in terms of being consistent and it’s a process you have to go through.”
What does Trotz mean by “passengers”?:
“Guys that tend to watch while letting others do the work. As I’ve said, you can either participate or be involved. Anybody can participate and be a part of it but you have to be involved to have any success.”
On how taxing it is on the Caps when they are on the penalty kill with the lack of depth:
“It’s very taxing. What it does is eliminate your high skill guys. We’re using Backstrom and (T.J.) Oshie to kill penalties. We’re using Tom Wilson, who probably plays around 14 minutes a night; now you’re putting on an extra four minutes a night. You get your skill guys less reps if they’re on the penalty kill and power play or it’s taxing on guys like Backstrom and Oshie when you’re down two and need them to be really good offensively but you’re still using them on the penalty kill. We need to stay out of the box. We take too many penalties, and way too many in the offensive zone. Those are the ones that get under my skin.”
Describing what Barry Trotz does on Thanksgiving:
“He has breakfast with his family, he’ll help the family make Thanksgiving dinner and then after dinner he will be putting up some Christmas lights like he always does.”
On the Redskins vs. Giants game and who he thinks will win:
“I’m gonna take the Skins on this one. I know they don’t have a good record on Thanksgiving but I think they got some good leaders, including Kirk Cousins. I think they’re gonna respond after a game that took a piece out of them (blowing a late lead against the Saints).”
You can listen to the full interview here.
By Michael Marzzacco