Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz spoke to 106.7 The Fan’s Sport Junkies Wednesday morning, and had some interesting thoughts when asked why he split up Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin has spent the entire season skating with Evgeny Kuznetsov while Backstrom has centered TJ Oshie.
While speaking to reporters after practice on Tuesday, Trotz, according to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, said that “[I] just don’t feel like” reuniting Ovechkin and Backstrom.
Asked Trotz why the hesitation to reunite Ovechkin and Backstrom. Said there isn't any. So, why hasn't he done it?
"Just don't feel like it."
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) November 21, 2017
Today, Trotz went into more detail, and said that Ovi was a “difficult player to play with.”
“Well I think just [Ovechkin and Backstrom] have been together for a long time,” Trotz began. “I think also Kuzy is a guy that can add some speed to that group. With the losses of Marcus Johansson and people like that— that have a little bit more of that speed element that used to play on that line — we really haven’t had that. So I put Kuzy in that position with Ovi to give them a little bit more speed. The game has gotten so much quicker so we felt that was necessary. And then, the ability for someone else to play with Ovi.”
Trotz then was blunt about how difficult it is, apparently, for other players to find chemistry with the Russian machine.
“Ovi’s not the easiest guy in the world to play with,” Trotz said. “Anytime you see Ovi at the World Championships or playing in different tournaments, like the World Cup of Hockey, or anything like that, players who play with him, really, it’s hard to get some chemistry.”
The Junkies asked why.
“He’s just a difficult player to play with,” Trotz replied. “Some players are naturally a little more mobile if you will and I think Ovi scores the way he does. He’s very instinctive. That’s the best answer on that. He’s just been a hard guy to find matches for. The thought process was that if something ever happens to Nicklas Backstrom, having a guy like Kuzy, and someone who’s played with him a little bit more, will help us long term.”
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