Last season, 21 of the Capitals’ 82 regular season games were decided after regulation, with 13 decided in overtime and eight decided by a shootout.
Intent on having more games decided before going to shootouts the NHL has decided to go to a 3-on-3 overtime format this season, opening up a cornucopia of strategies for the league’s coaching staffs.
“We met about it, we talked about, and we’re going to try a couple things that are probably under the radar,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who will get his first look at the 3-on-3 overtime on Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes (coverage begins at 6:30 on CSN), regardless of the score after regulation.
“One of the things guys have to recognize is the 3-on-3 shift is not like a 4-on-4 shift or a 5-on-5 shift. Guys get tired out more quickly. If guys think they’re going to have success 3-on-3 by staying out there and poaching or being out there for 45-50 seconds they’re going to kill you. If you go up and back, you can’t go back again.”
The Capitals ended each of their three on-ice sessions Saturday with 3-on-3 drills, with mixed reviews from the players.
“That doesn’t feel like real hockey,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “It’s going to be exciting for fans for sure and the forwards are probably going to love it. But for defensemen and goalies it’s probably not as fun. It feels like summer shinny scrimmage in July.”
Veteran center Derek Roy said he thinks he’ll enjoy the extra ice, noting that timely line changes will be crucial.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re changing on the offensive side and not on the defense,” Roy said.
While the Capitals have plenty of skilled offensive players on their roster, one of their secret weapons could be Braden Holtby, who handles the puck as well as any goalie in the game.
“That is one area where having a goalie that can handle the puck and can make that 150-foot pass to the red line or the far blue line, that’s a threat for sure,” Niskanen said. “If teams are caught on a change or are tired or are being a little bit lazy, he can catch someone.
“Potentially, you could even pass it back to him if you’re tired just to keep possession. The skilled forwards are going to absolutely love it. It’s going to be wild.”
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