Peter Laviolette He’s been getting very creative with his squad decisions lately. The Caps brought back both Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson from injury at the same time, forcing the talented regulars to step back.
It also means that a front group that once enjoyed balance and more defined roles has been thrown into disarray. This has resulted in the Capitals coach healthy a number of NHL players who would normally expect to play when they are available.
While He talks on 106.7 fans Sports enthusiasts Wednesdaythe veteran bench coach went into what that process was like and the player’s reaction to the constant lineup movement.
“There’s no way around it now when there are three players [come back]Lafollette said. O’Shea’s back and he’s back for seven or eight games now. Backstrom and Wilson are back for three games each. Lines will switch.
He continued, “We have 14 players in the National Hockey League who all played here and contributed and were good players for us.” “No guy was sitting outside or someone from the Palace was called in here just as an extra in case someone got injured. All the players contributed to the line-up until those players got back into the line-up. [They’ve] It played really well giving us the chance to get back into the play-offs and move up the table with that strong December.”
The Caps finished that month of December with a record of 11-2-2. In five-on-five, they saw 51.3 percent shot attempts, 56.5 percent expected goals, 52.6 percent scoring chances and 53.7 percent high risk chances. The team also had great results in terms of its five-to-five shooting percentage (9.2%) and especially its five-to-five save percentage (93.6%). Both signs are strongly ranked in the first half of the league.
Through eight games in January, those numbers have slipped. Matches are 3-4-1 and have 52.7% shot attempts, 51.9% expected goals, 51.4% scoring chances, and 50.5% high risk chances. The shooting percentage from five-to-five has also decreased to 8.2 percent, and the saving percentage from five-to-five is down to 90.2 percent.
Wilson and Backstrom returned on January 8 and the lineup has changed every game since. Players like Anthony Mantha, Lars Eller, and Dylan Strom were healthy scratches in those five games.
“At the moment we are running the depth of our organization,” said Laviolette. “For me, I’ve never had a reason to take anyone out. I think it’s uncomfortable – just one man at a time here and we’ll move on until we find that out. In terms of lines, there are a few things I like. I really liked playing back-to-back games against Backstrom and Milan.” And Wilson together so I’m trying to see if there’s a little chemistry there.”
Laviolette kept that Backstrom line together against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, but made some drastic adjustments to other lines. Those changes included Nicholas Opp-Koppel moving from being a healthy scratch since January 6 to a senior stint with the demoting of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov to the fourth-line position.
The Caps created the third most single-game dangerous chances they had this season (21) but fell to the Wild 4-2 on home ice.
“Last night we put together the lineup after playing the night before as we wanted speed and fitness,” said Laviolette. Kubel fit the bill. It was more about what he would bring to the table and I thought he played a good game. I think he hit four or five hits. His streak had one of the targets and he was a big part of that.
He continued, “Sometimes you look at the opponent, and sometimes you look at the situational play of a player who plays aggressively or a player who kills a penalty kick.” “With 14 players and five centimeters at that time, things will change, people will switch positions, and that’s the only way you can maintain that depth.”
Scratching players who are used to playing day and night is something La Follette equates to simple math. Hats are simply the healthiest they have been this season.
The bench boss brought it up when the junkies asked him if any of his players had “blocked or dribbled” in any of his recent decisions.
“Yeah, I mean listen, they’re all professional athletes,” said Laviolette. “They want to play and I love that. [If] Someone is upset because it’s not in the lineup, I don’t have a problem with that. They want to play, they want to help, and they want to contribute. But, again, 14, it’s just a little math here. My Division III college education at Westfield State is 14 NHL players and 12 NHL roster spots. Two should go out every night.”
The next iteration of Arizona’s Laviolette streak will be fielded against the Coyotes on Thursday night. She will start six of the team’s next seven matches as they look to turn around January’s fortunes and find a stable line-up.
The Cubs currently sit four points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Banner photo: Alan Dobbins / RMNB