Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Capitals return to Kettler Capitals Iceplex today (11:30 a.m. practice) to address what went wrong in Tuesday night’s 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Precious timeouts: Now that the NHL has instituted a coach’s challenge for goals in which goalie interference or offsides is in question, NHL coaches may be far more judicious on when they utilize their one allotted timeout.
On Tuesday night, Caps head coach Barry Trotz called a timeout 7:25 into the second period after the Sharks took a 3-0 lead. It was one of those “stop-the-bleeding” timeouts coaches often call to settle down their shaken players.
And then there are the “breather” timeouts coaches often utilize after tired players have iced the puck and must stay on the ice for defensive zone faceoffs. If there is a possibility for a coach’s challenge later in the game, would a coach need to think twice about burning a timeout in those situations?
“You have to, yeah,” Trotz said. “I called mine. I’m trrying to keep the game at (3-0) not (4-0). But you will think twice. If they score a goal in a tighter game and I don’t have a timeout and I know it’s interference, I won’t be able to call it.
“That’s why puck management and having guys who can play against top guys on an icing call, those are important faceoffs,” Trotz said. “Players need to know the importance of all those details.”
Getting it right?: It took referee Tim Peel and his officiating crew a total of 3 minutes to take away what would have been Dmitry Orlov’s first goal in 19 months. Although minimal, it was determined Jay Beagle made contact with Sharks goalie Martin Jones on the play and several players said they were concerned about the impact those calls could have on the game.
“We might see a lot of goals taken away this year,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I think it depends on the (officiating) staff that’s out there. Sometimes they might let that go and sometimes they might not. But it slows the game down, too.”
Without Ovechkin: Alex Ovechkin is expected back on the ice for the Capitals at today’s practice. Without him in the lineup, the Caps went 0-for-4 on the power play and were shut out at home for the first time since Nov. 14, 2014.
“They don’t cheat as much when Alex is not there,” said Trotz, who used Stan Galiev and Matt Niskanen in Ovechkin’s favorite spot in the left circle. “Alex is a big part of our power play. He gets a lot of power-play goals because he’s got a great release. But he’s very unselfish. Their guy will stand right next to him and he’ll move to make more space (for his teammates).”
Early yanking: Trotz went for broke Tuesday night when he pulled goaltender Braden Holtby with 5:06 remaining in the third period while trailing 3-0. The Sharks responded with a pair of empty-net goals to complete the rout.
“We were saying, ‘If we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down swinging.”
Trotz is following an increasing trend of coaches pulling their goalies far earlier than in the past. The end result could mean far greater margins of defeat and that could have an impact on who gets into the playoffs.
If two teams are tied in points at the end of the regular season, the first tiebreaker is regulation and overtime wins. The second tiebreaker is head-to-head record between those two teams. And the third tiebreaker, if needed, is goal differential.
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