I want to start by saying I genuinely like Barry Trotz. I think he’s a good man and a good coach. He’s brought with him to Washington some of the brightest minds in hockey, he’s reversed a decline in the organization, and he’s helped Alex Ovechkin become a more complete player. I don’t think Trotz has gotten enough credit for that. He is exactly what fans wanted last summer: an experienced head coach.
But now that we’re more than halfway through the season, I see some worrying trends in this organization that reach all the way down to the AHL level.
It has been a pleasant surprise to see Christian Djoos, drafted by the Capitals in the seventh round in 2012, fare well in Sweden.
Boxcar stats don’t do justice to this subtle blueliner. He looks mature regardless of his ice time. During the few occasions I saw Djoos get off to a rough start in games — sometimes just because of rotten luck — he proved mental toughness in bouncing back and not letting his game fall apart.
Djoos might not wow you on any given night, but he’s always consistent with his play.
Caps prospect Stan Galiev has put the work in this season and has become a great story. After initially struggling with system play as a teenager, the 23-year-old forward has carved himself out a roster spot in AHL Hershey. Galiev is fifth on the Bears in scoring. Earlier this season he authored a brilliant streak of 8 goals in 8 games, putting him on the Caps radar as a potential call-up.
“This year I played well in the pre-season, our head coach Troy Mann, trusted me and I began to score,” Galiev said. “I get power play time, get some points. I stay healthy too. You put all that together and you can say I’ve now got confidence.”
The WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, home to the Caps’ second-round pick and World Junior champion Madison Bowey, have gone all-in on the Memorial Cup, acquiring Winnipeg Jets’ top prospect Josh Morrissey from the Prince Albert Raiders last month. Now the Rockets have made another all-star caliber addition to their already-impressive roster by trading two roster players and three draft picks for another Raider, Leon Draisaitl, third overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, in advance of Friday’s WHL trade deadline.
Caps prospect Madison Boweyjust won the World Junior Championship. He scored a goal in the tournament, but I was more impressed by something else: the destruction he authored at Christmastime. Bowey teamed up with forward Nick Ritchie to fire pucks at some traditional holiday favorites and put a unique spin on a hockey shootout.
On Monday night, the 2015 World Junior Championship final was held between Canada and Russia, and it was one a hell of a game. After going up 5-1, Canada gave up 3 unanswered goals to Russia in the second period. In the third, Canada bent but didn’t break, holding on until the final buzzer to win 5-4.
The chirping between Caps players was fast and furious on Twitter during the final, though mostly between roommates Tom Wilson and Michael Latta.
Capitals’ first-round pick Jakub Vrana scored two goals and one assist in five games at the World Junior Championship before his Czech Republic fell to Slovakia 0-3, failing to make the semifinals for the tenth straight tournament.