Where’s Travis Boyd? Examining Why The Capital Forward Can’t Crack The Lineup

Washington Capitals forward Travis Boyd is missing. Well, technically, he’s not missing. During almost every game he can be found in the press box watching the game from above. But he’s been missing from the lineup too often recently.

Boyd played in the first five games following his recall from the minors on 11/20/19, skating while Carl Hagelin was out of the lineup with an upper-body injury. Since that five-game stint, Boyd has dressed for only seven of the Capitals’ 24 games. In fact, Travis has only played once since the turn of the new year, taking Alexander Ovechkin’s spot against Montreal last week while the captain served his one-game suspension for skipping the All-Star Game.

Why Travis Boyd is consistently a healthy scratch is a bit of a mystery. He is a high-energy player that skates hard each shift. He is a good checker and does solid work along the boards. His positive impact should be obvious even to casual viewers. Boyd is an “effort” player on a squad that sometimes needs reminding they play 60-minute games.

Clearly, Travis Boyd passes the eye test, but finding him a spot in the lineup is not as easy as it seems. If Boyd gets a sweater, who doesn’t? The seemingly obvious answer on the tip fans’ tongues is probably Richard Panik.

The winger struggled early in the season, both adjusting to a new team and suffering an injury. Some consider him a disappointment relative to his salary. However, Panik’s play has improved and the third line is finally beginning to gel. The fourth line, where Boyd has logged time at center, has been heralded for its puck possession and rough-and-tumble, sandpaper style. Nic Dowd has locked down the 4C position.

Does a statistical examination make a stronger case for Travis Boyd to crack the lineup? Yes and no. Looking at possession numbers, Boyd falls in line with any of the players he could potentially push onto the bench.

His Corsi For Percentage (56.3%) is higher than Richard Panik’s (53.0), Nic Dowd’s (55.4), Garnet Hathaway’s (54.0), and Brendan Leipsic (53.9), but obviously not by much.

There are similar results when comparing Fenwick For Percentages. The point is, in terms of possession and style of play, not much separates these bottom-six forwards. There would not be any drop-off in possession with Boyd on the ice.  Where Travis Boyd can stake a claim is offensive production.

Boyd has only played 20 games yet has posted 3 goals and 5 assists. His .45 points per game rank ninth on the team and are the second highest (behind only Lars Eller) of the bottom-six forwards. His 2.33 points per 60 minutes is seventh on the team and is best among those considered bottom-six forwards.

In December, Coach Todd Reirden told the Washington Post, “Travis’s offensive numbers and opportunities that he gets speaks for themselves”. The offensive numbers give Travis an edge.

Yes, the Capitals sit atop the NHL standings. They are obviously doing plenty right. However, there is always room for improvement. Todd Reirden clearly sees Travis Boyd brings energy to the club and produces when given the opportunity. It won’t be easy, but it is time the coach gets Boyd out of the press box and onto the ice more often.

By Bryan Hailey

About Bryan Hailey

I have been a Washington Capitals fan for over thirty years. Some of my favorite memories are rocking the red with friends while cheering the Caps and rooting against their Patrick/Metropolitan Division rivals.
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18 Responses to Where’s Travis Boyd? Examining Why The Capital Forward Can’t Crack The Lineup

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure what he would get as far as draft picks… I like TB and hope he sticks around but the Fs for the next few years seem set…

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Same. To me he proves himself each time he gets a game or two. He’s a half a point per game player. Just don’t get why he doesn’t get more games. Also hate to see him rot in the press box.

  2. Day One Caps Fan says:

    After today’s turd against PIT I’m ready for Boyd to replace anybody on the Second or Fourth Line.

    WHEREAS Pittsburgh has caught up with the Caps, and
    WHEREAS the current Caps roster is a loser in the playoffs, and
    WHEREAS PIT GM Rutherford absolutely will wheel and deal, effectively, at the trade deadline …

    … it’s a must for GMBM to make a move, or several, to augment the stale 2020 Washington Capitals. Both offense and defense need a spark. A more inspirational Head Coach wouldn’t hurt either! But that won’t be GMBM’s plans

    • kingofprides says:

      Sheesh. Easy there…. you’d think the caps were in last place reading this.

      So you think Travis Boyd should replace… Kuzy, V or Osh? oh sweet jesus….
      or replace anyone on what’s possibly the best fourth line in the league? yikes!

      Pens have caught up with the caps because they play fantastic systems hockey. (see a similar system implemented by Reirden and GMBM after game 2 in Columbus during the cup run…. that’s right….not Trotz)
      Caps roster is a loser in the playoffs? Pretty impressive talent seeing the future there….
      Rutherford is the reason the pens got beat by the Caps 2 years ago and the reason they got crushed by Trotz with the Isles last year. Rutherford dismantled that team and is trying desperately to get it back to where it was with speed and counter strike capabilities.

      GMBM definitely has some options he needs to consider, but I’m not going to go overboard and say it has to be some crazy mind blowing moves. Slumps happen… and I’m not even sure this is a slump as a whole. Caps still in first and are playing a very modern and effective hockey system under Reirden. Reirden and GMBM have been trying to fix the skating and aggression they were missing in the Trotz era. It’s looking good.

      Again… easy man. You can’t win them all. We’ve got a pretty great hockey team here.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        I’m with ya “King”, although I might be a little more of a proponent for an additional d-man. Otherwise, I don’t think a “blockbuster” needs to be pulled. It’s one game.

      • Mike Collins says:

        @KingOfPrides while I don’t disagree, because it seems to make sense, I’m wondering if you have any direct evidence/articles to support your statement below? I’m wondering what I may have missed during that time.

        “After game 2 Columbus, we started seeing a caps team we had never seen in the Trotz era. The whole game plan shifted. It was Reirden and GMBM all the way. Hence Trotz and his little “I’m not coming back” drama with Torts after they won.”

    • woohoo says:

      the sky is falling! the sky is falling! lol

    • Mike Collins says:

      While that IS HARSH and a tad over-reactive, 2 of 3 of your WHEREAS’ are true. Rutherford is a maybe.

      4th line has done quite well, but Pens games (and games against top tier teams like them) allow Caps to see the holes they need to patch. The holes cant just be sat on with beer cans in hand saying “we won” so we don’t have to fix anything. That being said Boyd is NOT a “hole patcher” at this point – no matter which line hes on. Capitals mgmt. have essentially seen what they CAN get from him and would rather let the newer acquisitions have a true chance to gel and improve, even if newer acquisitions produce the same results for the time being.

      For GMBM making moves – man, thats a tall order with them being tight up against the cap wall. Coach change… I’m on the fence, but I agree Reardon’s style of opening of the offense first, defense 2nd – wreaks of Caps problems of yesteryear.

      • kingofprides says:

        Rutherford will make what moves he feels is necessary, whether or not they identify with the back to back cup winning formula they had remains to be seen. He’s been trying to ship out Johnson and Galchenyuk both all year. Neither players are relevant to that system and are turning out to be hard to move… at least at the value he’ll want.

        As far as the last pens game…. 2 lucky bounces that went the pens way for 2 goals. The caps played very well especially in the 3rd. You can say “oh well there was this and that they did wrong”, I’ll say it again… pens are a good systems hockey team. It’s impossible to play perfect against coaching like that. I think the caps were still the better team in that game overall. I’m sure there are things to take away from that game as there always will be, but there’s a lot of good that was shown in that game too. That 3rd period was 100% playoff winning hockey “cough cough… Day One?”

        Totally agree on Boyd not being a hole patcher. I think he’s a good player, but he doesn’t fit this system under Reirden well enough. Similar to Jensen, just Jensen is lucky to be a righty, which is probably why he’s holding his spot for now. (and NoVa Caps – the headline photo is so awesome)

        Tall order indeed for GMBM, I’m very curious to see what and how he does it.

        As far as Reirden, I have to scratch my head when I hear the need for a coaching change. I’m not the first person to say this… and there might even be a NoVa caps article on this, unless it was someone else. After game 2 Columbus, we started seeing a caps team we had never seen in the Trotz era. The whole game plan shifted. It was Reirden and GMBM all the way. Hence Trotz and his little “I’m not coming back” drama with Torts after they won. He was pissed. Not to mention the fact that they didn’t even make some crazy attempt to re-sign him. GMBM wanted Reirden plain and simple. We have our cup winner right here with our team. Yes last year sucked, but we had a dead tired caps team against a team fresher and trained to forecheck teams to death. GMBM and Reirden both saw that forechecking issue and attempted to fix it this year. Time will tell, but… 1st place for now under a very modern hockey system, I feel they can make a really good run… just add another good depth RHD at least.

      • kingofprides says:

        Ah man… The article I read was soon after they won the cup so it was over a year and a half ago… I’m having a hard time finding it. It was either on here or RMNB most likely.

        I’ll try to make this short, because I find these things fun and can go on forever. The takeaway was this – Trotz and Torts shake hands after 1st round, Elliotte Friedman reports he reads Trotz saying I’m gone, I’m not coming back or something like that. An easy google search and you’ll see that one.

        so what made the caps different after game 2. The biggest and most obvious was this:
        Trotz is huge on the 1 3 1 formation. Defense first… do not take chances or your benched. 1 forward red line. 3 on the blue 1 deep in the defending zone.

        After game 2… this bizarre formation(for any of us cap fans) showed up. the 1 1 3 (Pretty sure I heard Eddie Olcyzk call this the “picket fence” several times though out) . 1 pressing forward at the opposite dzone, 1 red line. 3 setup on the blue. This is basically an alternate form of the neutral zone trap. Clogs up the middle of the ice. First forward forces the puck one direction. second forward continues the push into the 3 at the blue line, leaving the first forward open for a quick counter strike if the puck is intercepted. The best place to see this work perfectly is Kuzy’s goal that knocked out pens in round 2 – definitely check it out.

        This is a higher risk and reward system that you will never see in a Trotz run team. He is all defense first, gain possession, hold possession, It makes for wonderful defense, but gets you run over in the playoffs.

      • Mike Collins says:

        @kingofprides thanks. I know you you feel re long posts. I love to recap Caps 18 chip and still do via youtube. Its one of the few times, I feel, that sports fans who were so emotionally invested in a team for so long were relieved nearly as much as the players when they hoisted the cup.

        Anyway, I’ve seen similar articles, but wanted to see if there was something else that directly pointed to Reardon/GMBM combo during the playoffs.

        The 1-1-3 ( or 1-4 imho) sure was a key factor in their run, along with the collapsing /protect net style they borrowed from previous Pens ‘chip teams, but I’m not entirely convinced it was Reardon’s baby.

        I guess were a bit off track here since Travis Boyd is still MIA. Maybe he’d be willing to spill the beans for playing time? Wonder if a certain blog can use clout and make it happen? 🙂

      • kingofprides says:

        I’m not even sure there is a specific “I demote you and promote you statement” that any of us will ever find. I’m just a believer in what I saw. Trotz is back to his same old ways with the isles now, so I just have a hard time believing he came up with it. And I totally agree on the collapsing D.
        Who knows, maybe they met in the middle somewhere, but I have to believe GMBM after years of failure steps in and says…. this isn’t working, we have fantastic players… how do we fix this? Reirden (you’re next in line for the throne) what do you say… and maybe it evolved from there.

        I’m all for giving Boyd some playing time for the info lol!

  3. Clifford Keefe says:

    As with Andre Burakovsky, the coaching staff seems to have made up their minds about TB…Unless there are injuries to other players he isn’t going to play–not enough to really develop…That noted, I think a change of venue would serve Travis Boyd very well…From what I’ve seen he simply isn’t going to get enough PT to flower here…



    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I think your right, Cliff. Good analogy. For whatever reason, it feels like the decision has been made. If that’s the case, the best thing for both the player and the team is to deal him, give him a chance somewhere else.

  4. Diane Doyle says:

    Being the 13th forward is a thankless job. Like Travis Boyd today and Stan Galiev in the recent past. Stan was a skilled player who wasn’t quite as good as the other skiled players in the Top 6. It’s probably a similar thing with Boyd. Some skill but not as much as the other current Top 6’ers.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The team kicks things up a notch when Boyd is in the lineup. He also is an ultimate professional filling the role he is now. Leadership players seem to like him and make him feel comfortable/valuable.

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