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Barry Trotz wants Capitals to embrace mentality of 'playing fast'

Barry Trotz wants Capitals to embrace mentality of 'playing fast'

As the Capitals embark on a four-game swing to Western Canada, Barry Trotz has a list of areas where he expects to see some progress.

He wants to see more consistency from his power play and penalty kill.

He’d like more even-strength production from his retooled forward lines.

And, in general, he also wants to see his players operate a tick quicker.

Over the past few days, we’ve touched on the first and second items. Today, we’re going to get into No. 3, which Trotz discussed earlier this week.

“When we’re playing fast, we’re a good a hockey team,” Trotz said. “We can play with anybody, any night. When we play slow, we’re not as good.”

RELATED: AFTERNOON QUOTE: MCDAVID HASN'T HAD CREATIVITY 'COACHED OUT' OF HIM

To be clear, Trotz isn’t necessarily talking about skating faster than the opposition. He’s talking about putting stress on the other team by pushing the pace.

For example: is the other team in the midst of a not-so-crisp line change? If so, that’s a great time to force the issue.  

“There’s been a couple of times where we’re accepting the slow play and not pushing,” Trotz said. “Like a controlled breakout when we’ve got a team changing. We want to get [the puck] up [the ice] and see if we can catch them on a poor change. [Instead], we’re sort of just going back and reorganizing all the time.”

Pushing the pace, Trotz added, also increases the odds of catching a defender flat-footed and/or a forward out of position.

“We want to push the play,” Trotz said. “When you don’t do that, you let teams reorganize. You want to catch teams when they don’t have their structure, [when] they don’t have all of their details [on point] and [personnel] in their spots. That’s playing fast. You get a puck, get it up quick. Let’s move it quickly.”

But playing faster isn’t just about the transition game. It’s important everywhere on the rink, Trotz emphasized.

“Let’s get to your spot,” Trotz said. “If you’re supposed to be a post-up guy, get there. If you’re supposed to be the guy that’s driving through the middle, get there. If you’re supposed to be the F1 on the forecheck, get there. If you’re the [F2] or [F3], make sure you get there quick. And then the game happens quicker.”

Trotz reiterated that he doesn’t mean outskating the opposing team, he means making a conscious effort to do everything at a higher RPM. Think the game quicker. React to changing situations faster. Push. The. Pace.

“At times we’ve played very quick and other times we’ve played slower,” he said. “If it becomes a continual mindset, then you’ll play quick all the time. ...It’s nothing to do with speed. It’s just a mindset. Get the puck, move it and let’s go. Play north. When we’re playing north, and we’re on top of the other team, we’ll get our chances and we’ll get our opportunities and we’ll be hard to handle.”

MORE CAPITALS: TROTZ SEES VALUE IN AN EARLY SEASON ROAD TRIP

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!