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Game #22 – Hawks vs. Capitals Q&A: Russian Machine Never Breaks…Unless It’s Drunk…Then Only Sorta

RussianMachineNeverBreaks.com has been a quality Caps outlet for as long as we’ve been doing this. Follow them @RussianMachine. 

It’s odd for a Cup-winning team to lose its coach. What really happened with Barry Trotz and has it made any difference so far this year?

There’s probably less to the story of Trotz’s exit than meets the eye. Trotz’s contract was up at the end of last season, but he had a provision that would have extended him with a modest raise if he won the Cup. Trotz felt he deserved more than a modest raise, and the Caps felt they should not commit upwards of $20 million on a coach that would likely be fired before full term. Trotz had come very close to a firing this time last year, and Todd Reirden had been groomed to take over for a couple years now. It was an awkward split, but this is sort of the way it had to go.
The team is mostly the same, but they’re having massive trouble with team defense, especially on the PK. New AC Reid Cashman is reportedly in charge of the defense, and they’re certainly struggling so far.

Much like last year, Braden Holtby can’t seem to stop a sloth. He struggled last season, and then was excellent in the playoffs. What’s the deal here?

We think Holtby’s doing okay, but “okay” is sub par for Holtby. Instead of saving around 93% during 5v5 play, he’s barely saving above what we’d expect given his workload — and that’s the rub. Holtby’s job has gotten much harder in the last year: more shots and more of them from close up. The team needs to do slightly better for him, and then I suspect Holtby will climb back up to that 93% range.

Feel free to go ahead and taunt us about Michal Kempny. We’ve lost all feeling anyway. 

Kempny literally saved the Caps season. He replaced Madison Bowey in February and immediately transformed the blue line. He seemed just as happy about the change of scenery as we were. Flat out: the Caps could not have won the Cup without him. Thank you for sharing.
Actually, Kempny got a concussion in the preseason and hasn’t quite been on the ball yet this year. I hope he’ll get back to it soon.

With the defense this team still has, why do their metrics underwhelm?

A bunch of factors, but here are a few: they stink without the puck. They are way too passive on the forecheck, which leaves the potential of dangerous floaters like Ovechkin and Kuznetsov unexploited. Orlov and Niskanen seem to be having down years, and depth forward Andre Burakovsky can’t seem to get his scoring touch back after an injury-riddled season. Still, I expect the Caps to outscore their shot-attempt stats by a fair bit just on the strength of their shooting talent.

If the Caps went 0-82, would anyone around there really care?

In the words of JP at Japers Rink,


Game #22 Preview Suite




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