Wednesday night against the Flyers, Barry Trotz will give current fourth-line forward Jakub Vrana a new role: nacho duty.
The rookie forward, who will be a healthy scratch for the first time since November 16 against Colorado, is tied for fifth on the team in goals (10). But none of those lamp lighters have come in the new calendar year, where the Caps have had the wonkiest schedule ever: four games in 18 days.
No Jakub Vrana tonight for #Caps. “His game has fallen off the last little while…” Barry Trotz says. D Taylor Chorney also out.
— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) January 31, 2018
While Vrana’s production has slowed, his underlying numbers remain strong. According to Natural Stat Trick, Vrana has the fourth best possession numbers (50.84 shot attempt percentage) on the team among forwards who have played more than 40 games this season.
“Sometimes you try to send a message,” Trotz said last week according to The Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty. “It’s no different than [Burakovsky], [Burakovsky] not having a lot of success, and there’s nothing that changes. Nothing has the effect than taking away something a player loves to do. In [Burakovsky’s] case, it was taking the fact that he couldn’t go out and show what he could do, and what he wants to do, and how much he misses it. And sometimes you have to remind them, it’s not a right to be in the lineup, it’s a privilege.”
Vrana responded with six goals in 13 games after Trotz publicly embarrassed the player in November and said the Czech forward was in “participation mode.”
Recently, Trotz has called Vrana, who has only an assist in his last 13 games, a “non-factor,” but he’s also barely played. Vrana, suiting up with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly (or others), received a career-low 6:25 of ice time in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on January 21. Over the past three games, Vrana has seen his 14 minutes of ice time drop to single digits (FLA 09:11, PHI 06:25, MTL 08:17).
Benching a good player for one game is not a big deal. And perhaps Trotz is trying to find the same magic he had in the fall where a hot streak shot Vrana among the league leaders in rookie scoring.
But there are bigger problems on the Capitals than Jakub Vrana’s play and Trotz is potentially hurting the team’s chances to win (again) by trying to send a message.
Anytime you can find a way to sit Vrana in favor of ~5+ less-skilled veterans, ya gotta do it https://t.co/WeXo50XPMp
— Pat Holden (@pfholden) January 31, 2018
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.