Laviolette’s Well-Timed Timeout Fuels Capitals Resurgence Against Sabres


The Buffalo Sabres had just taken their first lead of Friday night’s game against the Washington Capitals. But the larger concern at hand for the Capitals was the fact that the Sabres were buzzing. They had grabbed control of the game and notched two quick tallies in a three-minute span.

Fearing further damage Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette called a somewhat unusual timeout in the middle of the second period. It was perfect timing, however. It’s not known what was said, but whatever it was, it worked. The Capitals responded to Laviolette’s timeout speech right from the start of play following the timeout.

“He’s got that speech inside of him. sometimes you need help and you know, that is why he is the coach. he had the feeling that he had to say something and you know, it work out and thank you,” said Evgeny Kuznetsov following the game.

If you’re not familiar with the following graph, it simply charts each and every shot attempt by both teams. An upward mark (in the direction of the Sabres logo) represents a shot attempt by Buffalo. A downward mark represents a shot attempt by the Capitals. Lateral movement in the lines represents time. The big arrow represents the point at which Peter Laviolette called the timeout.

As you can see in the minutes leading up to the timeout the shot attempts are trending drastically upward (Buffalo shot attempts) which is culminated by the Sabres two goals (blue dots).

However, immediately following the timeout it was all Capitals, represented by immediate reversal in shot trends and steep, downward tick marks, which included a goal by the Capitals to tie the game. The trend continued into the third period where things leveled off a bit.

Laviolette was asked about the timeout during his post-game presser.

“They scored two goals and the two or three shifts prior that weren’t good. It was almost  like as soon as we went up we stopped playing. It [timeout] was good. The guys responded from that point, we didn’t let up very much after that, defensively, and got back on the attack offensively.”

The Capitals would ultimately win the game in the shootout thanks to nifty tallies from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.

The Capitals are right back at it Saturday night when they host the New Jersey Devils at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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