TORONTO—Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said on Sunday that he’s mulling changes to his lineup as Washington’s first round playoff series shifts to Toronto.
“We may move things around,” Trotz said on a conference call with reporters. “We may not.”
He added: “We’re meeting now and going through of the stuff from last night. We’ll have a good game plan and the guys will be ready for tomorrow.”
Through two games—the Leafs prevailed 4-3 in double overtime Saturday night to knot the series 1-1—the Caps have scored six goals, three of which have come on the power play.
The top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, meanwhile, has just a single point at even strength through nearly eight periods of play—Backstrom’s game tying tally late in the third period of Game 2.
So far, Toronto Coach Mike Babcock has preferred to deploy Nazem Kadri’s line against the Backstrom unit.
“I think Mike will stay with the same game plan that he’s tried to do [in Washington] with Kadri on Backstrom,” Trotz said, noting that Babcock will benefit from the last change the next two games.
After tinkering with his forward combos the first two months, Trotz has largely elected to stay with the same lines since late December. He does, however, have options. The most obvious change would be flipping the top two centers—Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov—in an attempt to jumpstart the first line while giving the Leafs a different look.
“Maybe we’ll tweak something,” Trotz said. “Yeah, we might do that.”
If Trotz does decide to make changes, the first sign of any tweak(s) won’t come until Monday’s morning skate…or possibly later.
Changes or not, Trotz says he is sure of this much: he wants his forwards to simplify and bear down harder around the net after so many missed opportunities Saturday.
“I think it’s a mindset,” Trotz said. “Anytime the puck is in a position [where] you have the ability to score, don’t cheat yourself and look for a better play. The best play a lot of times in the playoffs is to get it on net quick and drive towards the blue paint. And let’s not get too cute around the net. You get a chance or an opportunity, you got to bury them. You’ll recognize the better play if it’s there, but don’t look for it and slow it down.”
Trotz also offered an unsolicited opinion on the Leafs’ battered blue line, which lost another piece, Roman Polak, to a gruesome ankle injury in the second period Saturday and, as a result, had to finish the game with five D-men.
Two players—Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly—logged over 40 minutes.
“This series is about wearing people down,” Trotz said. “I think we’re fine that way. So we just got to keep pounding the rock, if you will, and see if you can wear people down. Their D got extended pretty hard last night in a lot of areas. Those 40-plus minutes, those are hard to recover from.”
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