Head coach Peter Laviolette told the media after the Washington Capitals‘ practice on Tuesday that the team’s offensive production from defensemen at even-strength comes from “a little bit of everything,” and “different areas” such as exiting the defensive zone and adding through the neutral zone.
“I do believe that there is an identity through the offensive zone that incorporates the defense,” he continued. He stated that even if a player is more of a defensive defenseman, the same system still applies for them all.
Laviolette is known for getting his defenses to play an up-tempo style that features his defensemen jumping up in the offensive attack. The Capitals have 25 goals and 117 points by defensemen this season, accounting for 15.53% of the team’s offensive production.
Laviolette was asked if it was essential that the offense helps with defense and the defense helps with the offensive equally at both ends of the ice. The 56-year-old coach explained that “I always feel like your a little bit better when you’re connected, so the answer to your question from me would be yes….connected in the defensive zone, connected the neutral zone, and connected the offensive zone as well.”
The blueline’s contribution to the offense is a big reason why the Capitals average 3.50 goals per game this season, which trails only the Colorado Avalanche (3.58). However, Laviolette’s system comes with risks as the Capitals’ average of 3.02 goals-against per game ranks 19th and the Capitals give up more scoring chances (1,117) than they create (1,081). Though, some of that is on the goaltending, which has a .8973 save percentage this season (seventh-worst).
By Harrison Brown