Washington Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette told 106.7 The Fan Monday morning that he has been relatively pleased with the play of the Capitals blueline through the first three games of the season. However, there is still work to be done in order to fully understand and implement the new system on the back end, and to be more consistent as a team.
One of the early standouts on the blueline so far this season has been Brenden Dillon, who met with the media following the Capitals optional skate on Monday in Pittsburgh. He first discussed the number of leaders in the Capitals room, and how new defenseman Zdeno Chara is fitting in so far.
“I think you can never have too much leadership. I think that’s something with the group we have. You look around the room, legends of the game. Guys I’m very fortunate to be teammates with. I think for a season, whether it be 56 games or 82 games, there’s going to be your highs and lows, and I think even already three games in, Zee, when he just speaks in the room, you’re listening.”
Following yesterday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Penguins, Nicklas Backstrom discussed the Capitals need for more consistency as a team. He felt the team has played a few good periods but has yet to find consistency with their team play, period to period and game to game. Dillon also thinks the team needs to focus on being more consistent.
“I think that’s just kind of the standard we have for ourselves as a team. Are we happy to have five out of six points, for sure, but I think it’s the way that we’re going about it. I think in three games, there have been bits and pieces, where we’ve been really happy. I think the first period in Buffalo, first game, we were taking the play to them, we were not so much worried about what the other team is doing. We were just worried about us playing Capitals hockey. I think we’ve seen in the video, when we’ve gone through it in the meetings, when we talk about it as a group, we know when we’re playing our best, when we’re not turning pucks over, when we’re playing direct. I mean, we are a hard, physical team, when we have pucks down low. Us as defensemen see it in practice. It’s tough to defend. We have some new faces being incorporated into the lineup, but consistency, I think, is first and foremost taking care of your own game, and from there, you know your center man, your wingers, your d-partners, are all gonna read off of that, and get better. We’re only three games in, but consistencies is something you can control, there’s no excuses for it, all teams have back-to-backs. All the teams have had shorter training camps. So we understand the bar that we’ve set for ourselves, internally. I think even through these first three games, we’re not there yet.”
Dillon was also asked about goaltender Ilya Samsonov’s level of play in his first two games, and if he thinks he feels the pressure, and if there was anything the team could do for him, on or off the ice.
”I know for us, as the players here, we have a lot of faith in Sammy, we have a lot of confidence in him this year. I’m sure for a lot of young goaltenders, when they officially become the man, they become the starter, I’m sure there’s a little bit of nerves. Again, it’s a very unique year, where you don’t have some tuneup, exhibition games. I think some of the goals that have gone in for Sammy’s for first two (games), defensively, whether that’s wingers or defensemen, we can maybe try to get a blocked shot on it or get a stick in there, help him as much as we can. I think in a lot of instances he’s made big saves for us at other times. That’s the tough part, that’s the reason why I’m not a goalie.”
‘The Capitals will finish up their two-game series with the Penguins Tuesday night. Puck drop is set for 7:07 PM.
By Jon Sorensen