Washington Capitals: Barry Trotz calls “analytics” death, looking for changes

 

Barry Trotz (Washington Capitals)

Barry Trotz (Washington Capitals)

Barry Trotz doesn’t want his team playing an analytic game, but isn’t totally against using analytics as an evaluation tool. So what does this exactly mean? The Caps need to stop worrying about their Corsi scores and worry about playing the game.

In an interview with Dan Rosen of the NHL, Trotz said, “I call it analytics death. There’s a time to carry and there’s a time to self-chip it. You’ve got all the speed so self-chip it, get on the other side of the guy, and hang onto it. We were trying to dangle guys.” His statement on analytics game came after their 3 game road trip last week, where they only came away with one win.  

I’ve always looked down upon the “dump and chase” method of play because why would you give up the puck for a 50-50 shot at gaining it back? Trotz argues that one needs to take into account how the team is defending its blue line and the moment in the game. Which insinuates that there he believes there are moments to dump and chase and there are moments not to. I would also argue that the combination of players on the ice should also be a factor in deciding whether dumping and chasing is a good idea.

Nicklas Backstrom scored his 500th career point on Wednesday. (lastwordonsports.com)

Nicklas Backstrom scored his 500th career point on Wednesday. (NHL.Caps)

In addition, Trotz thought that the Caps were trying to force the puck into the zone to then lose it. “That takes all of your speed away,” he said. “You get into that transition game and you’re on the wrong side of the puck. I love that we have the skill that we can carry the puck in, but there are times when we can’t and we still want to carry the puck in. It’s those little decisions on this trip that we weren’t as strong as we needed to be.” This was especially the case in the Caps 4-2 lose to the Canucks.

What analytics tells us is that on average carrying the puck into the offensive zone gives teams a higher shot percentage rather than dumping and chasing. The point being that the Caps players were too worried about keeping the puck instead of playing the game and adapting to the defense in front of them.

It’s one thing to know the team you’re playing and devise a strategy to beat them, but it’s another to worry about possessing the puck instead of getting the two points.  With advanced stats going mainstream, maybe the players were too overly concerned with controlling the puck, than playing the game laid out before them.

Sometimes, you need to actually give up possession to win. Crazy, I know.

Winds of Change?

“That behavior has to change, or we have to change people. It’s plain and simple,” Trotz said. “Ice time, look at different people in different situations. To me it’s absolutely unacceptable. They have to fix their behavior. It’s my job to fix the behavior. I don’t like the behavior. If they’re not going to fix it internally, individually, then I’ll make sure I fix it.” *The Washington Post

Those were the words of Caps head coach Barry Trotz after a terrible loss to Arizona. Four unanswered goals in the third period sank the Caps for a 6-5 loss.

Players cited being upset and needing to work harder, but maybe the answer is not in the room, or in goal. Braden Holtby has been abysmal in 3 of his last 4 starts, going 1-3 with 12 goals against and a .869 save %.

So what changes will the Caps make? It’s hard to tell so early in the season, especially when so many teams are coping with injuries. However, one name is back in the rumor mill again, 29 year old defenseman, Mike Green.

“I’ve had a few (calls)” GM, Brian MacLellan told ESPN’s Craig Custance. “He’s a legitimate first power play, right-shot that can make plays and shoot the puck. Who wouldn’t want one?” Indeed, but who can afford one and give the Caps what they need in goal? MacLellan isn’t going to press the panic button just yet either, as he is looking to stand pat.

For now, Barry Trotz and Caps will try and work out from within the room on out.

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