If Barry Trotz sticks with his retooled forward lines, the team’s penalty kill could also sport some new faces Saturday night when the Capitals visit the Canucks.
Reports out of Vancouver on Friday afternoon suggested that Daniel Winnik was skating as the odd man out during practice. Through the season’s first six games, he’s averaged the third most shorthanded ice time among all the Capitals’ forwards behind Tom Wilson and Jay Beagle.
Trotz said it’s possible Winnik’s shorthanded ice time will be redistributed among several players as the Capitals’ coaching staff attempts to get the penalty kill on track. The unit sits 28th (72.2-percent) and has allowed a goal in five of the six contests after finishing last season ranked second (85.2).
T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson could see increased roles on the penalty kill, Trotz said. Oshie and Backstrom have been used very sparingly in shorthanded situations so far this season, while Johansson has seen virtually no penalty kill time at all.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that we’ve kept off the PK a little bit,” Trotz said. “We’re just going to share [the minutes] evenly. We haven’t used Osh a whole lot, or Backie, or JoJo. All those guys will have to share [the load].”
Trotz also noted that newcomers Brett Connolly and Zach Sanford have been rotating in on the penalty kill unit in recent practices.
“I know Connolly and Sanford can do some of that. [Assistant coach] Lane [Lambert] is working them into the fold,” Trotz said.
While the coaching staff has shown it is willing to tweak the personnel, Trotz also seemed to indicate that the unit could benefit from some better bounces of the puck, too.
“Our PK hasn’t lit it up so far,” Trotz said. “Goals are coming a little bit easy [for the opposing team]. We don’t give up a lot of shots, but they just seem to the find the back of the net right now. We have a belief that that group will come together and get it done. Everybody has got to be just a little bit better, that's all.”
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