As Barry Trotz searches for ways to generate more offense, the Capitals coach said Monday that his forwards need to do a better job of screening opposing goaltenders.
“With the way teams are [defending], you have to get your [point] shots through and you have to get people to the net,” Trotz said after practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “We are getting pucks to the net from the point. We’ll keep using that but at the same time I’d like to see us have some more net presence.”
The Capitals’ offense ranks 25th through the season's first five games, having tallied 13 goals—11 at even strength and two on the power play.
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Trotz said he’s not worried about scoring the tic-tac-toe goals. His star-laden lineup will make sure that they get plenty of those. He wants to see more gritty goals, the ones that required forwards to position themselves in front of slap shots and jostle with defensemen, all the while obscuring the opposing goalie’s line of sight.
“We’re pretty good in the zone; we can make some high-skill plays,” Trotz said. “But at the end of the day, when the puck is delivered, we want to make it as difficult as we can for the goaltenders.”
“So,” he added, “east-west is always good, especially if it’s through the middle of the [offensive zone] where you can make the goaltender have to move laterally, hard. I’m all for that. But when pucks are in a little more stationary position at the point, we want to have traffic.”
Trotz pointed to Lars Eller’s goal against the Rangers on Saturday as a good example of what he’d like to see more of. Eller stationed himself between the circle and the crease, drawing the attention of defenseman New York Brady Skjei. As Eller parked himself in front of Lundqvist, the Capitals’ center managed to get the heel of his stick on Brooks Orpik’s point shot. It was a nifty redirection that Lundqvist did not see until it was too late.
“You don’t always have to be on top of the goalie, but you have to be in that shot lane so you can get your stick on it,” Trotz said. “You have to be somewhere where it’s making it hard for him to pick up the puck.”
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