Quick Links

Zetterberg says Russians may stay in KHL


Zetterberg says Russians may stay in KHL

There has been a constant drumbeat since the NHL locked out its players on Sept. 15 and it may be one the Capitals and their fans would rather not hear.

Alex Ovechkin was the first to entertain the thought of playing the entire season in Russia back on Sept. 4, a few days before he left the nation’s capital with a one-way ticket to Moscow.

Since then Ilya Kovalchuk has said he’d be “delighted to stay in the KHL and Ilya Bryzgalov has said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Russians forsake the NHL for Russia.

Earlier Wednesday it was Sweden’s Henrik Zetterberg who banged the same drum when he told MLive.com that the option of playing in the KHL may be more attractive to Russian players than playing in the NHL.

“I know for a fact Russians will probably stay,” Zetterberg said. “I can’t blame them either. The Russian league treats players a different way. For them to play in their home country and not have these [labor] disputes every other year … and they honor the contracts over there.

“If you sign a deal, that’s the deal you get.”

Ovechkin has nine years and $88 million remaining on his NHL contract with the Capitals -- $9 million in each of the next two seasons and $10 million a year in each of the following seven.

Ovechkin reportedly is making $6 million, tax free, to play for Moscow Dynamo and has said numerous times he would consider staying in Russia if a new NHL labor agreement called for an immediate reduction in salaries.

In other words, if Ovechkin can make slightly less money to play in Russia than he does in the NHL, he may consider staying there for good. And could anyone blame him?

This is the second time in his career Ovechkin has been forced to miss an NHL paycheck. He played in Russia during the last lockout of 2004-05 and has shown his commitment to his country with several appearances with the national team in the World Championships.

Given the chance to stay in Russia for the remainder of this season, would Ovechkin do it? More importantly, with the 2014 Winter Olympics scheduled for Sochi, would Ovi simply stay in Russia through next season as well?

Your thoughts?

Quick Links

Barry Trotz wants Capitals to embrace mentality of 'playing fast'

Barry Trotz wants Capitals to embrace mentality of 'playing fast'

As the Capitals embark on a four-game swing to Western Canada, Barry Trotz has a list of areas where he expects to see some progress.

He wants to see more consistency from his power play and penalty kill.

He’d like more even-strength production from his retooled forward lines.

And, in general, he also wants to see his players operate a tick quicker.

Over the past few days, we’ve touched on the first and second items. Today, we’re going to get into No. 3, which Trotz discussed earlier this week.

“When we’re playing fast, we’re a good a hockey team,” Trotz said. “We can play with anybody, any night. When we play slow, we’re not as good.”


To be clear, Trotz isn’t necessarily talking about skating faster than the opposition. He’s talking about putting stress on the other team by pushing the pace.

For example: is the other team in the midst of a not-so-crisp line change? If so, that’s a great time to force the issue.  

“There’s been a couple of times where we’re accepting the slow play and not pushing,” Trotz said. “Like a controlled breakout when we’ve got a team changing. We want to get [the puck] up [the ice] and see if we can catch them on a poor change. [Instead], we’re sort of just going back and reorganizing all the time.”

Pushing the pace, Trotz added, also increases the odds of catching a defender flat-footed and/or a forward out of position.

“We want to push the play,” Trotz said. “When you don’t do that, you let teams reorganize. You want to catch teams when they don’t have their structure, [when] they don’t have all of their details [on point] and [personnel] in their spots. That’s playing fast. You get a puck, get it up quick. Let’s move it quickly.”

But playing faster isn’t just about the transition game. It’s important everywhere on the rink, Trotz emphasized.

“Let’s get to your spot,” Trotz said. “If you’re supposed to be a post-up guy, get there. If you’re supposed to be the guy that’s driving through the middle, get there. If you’re supposed to be the F1 on the forecheck, get there. If you’re the [F2] or [F3], make sure you get there quick. And then the game happens quicker.”

Trotz reiterated that he doesn’t mean outskating the opposing team, he means making a conscious effort to do everything at a higher RPM. Think the game quicker. React to changing situations faster. Push. The. Pace.

“At times we’ve played very quick and other times we’ve played slower,” he said. “If it becomes a continual mindset, then you’ll play quick all the time. ...It’s nothing to do with speed. It’s just a mindset. Get the puck, move it and let’s go. Play north. When we’re playing north, and we’re on top of the other team, we’ll get our chances and we’ll get our opportunities and we’ll be hard to handle.”


Quick Links

Afternoon quote: McDavid hasn't had the creativity 'coached out' of him yet

Afternoon quote: McDavid hasn't had the creativity 'coached out' of him yet

Asked about the challenges of facing a player of Connor McDavid’s caliber, Matt Niskanen made an interesting point about today’s young players. In Niskanen's estimation, the next generation of NHL superstars are taking risks and resisting the urge to play everything safe.

That’s what makes them special. And hard to defend. 

“Young kids nowadays, they got the guts to try things,” Niskanen said Tuesday before the Capitals’ embarked on a four-game Western Canada trip that begins in Edmonton. “They’ll try a one-on-one, try to make a play in tight spaces, where it hasn’t been coached out of them yet. They’re a little unpredictable. That makes it challenging.”

Indeed, McDavid is one of the NHL’s most exciting players. He’s also one of the league's most productive. Through the season’s first six games, McDavid is tied for the NHL lead in points with nine (four goals and five assists).

RELATED: Trotz sees value in an early season road trip