With the Capitals down 3-2, Evgeny Kuznetsov tried to score on San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones on a breakaway. Instead of going to one of his go-to moves, Kuznetsov got fancy and tried to shoot the puck between the legs. The Russian centerman overskated the puck and didn’t get a shot on net.
After the game, head coach Todd Reirden was asked about Kuznetsov’s decision making.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 5, 2020
“I would have preferred probably a different move,” Reirden said. “One that ends up with the goalie having to make a save. So I have seen him score on a lot of different moves that I know work. I’d prefer a different move in that situation in a time that we really could have changed the momentum of the game.”
Kuznetsov would later make up for his mistake, tallying the primary assist on TJ Oshie’s game-tying goal with 14 seconds remaining. Lars Eller would score in overtime to complete the comeback.
During his press conference, Reirden spoke about his coaching philosophy which involves discipline, but also giving players opportunities afterward to make amends. Reirden cited the team’s comeback in the final minute of the game to show how coaches still give players opportunities despite mistakes.
“I think it’s a little bit of a story inside the story there,” Reirden said. “We don’t like the play that we end up giving the goal on at the end – that (empty-netter) they go up by two goals. So John (Carlson) doesn’t make a play that he loves and that takes us down. Okay, well we score. Do we put John back out there or do you not? Of course, you put your guys out there who are your leaders and your team’s top players. He put them on the ice to have that chance and then they do it.
“Lars didn’t have the best game,” Reirden continued. “Couple penalty kills, he was on the ice for a couple of those goals. Not his strongest game. You still go to him and give him a chance to respond. That’s the one thing that I and our team has established. If you make a mistake, you’ll get another opportunity to go and make it right. Don’t rest on that, respond. Respond, not for yourself, but for the team. Don’t let your mistakes drag down the rest of the group. That’s what I like the best about it, our resilience and non-quit attitude.”
Reirden was adamant that his system allows players to improve and learn from their mistakes.
“I think it’s very fair how things work in our room,” Reirden said. “You’re rewarded when things go well in the game. When they don’t, you’ll maybe miss a shift or two shifts if you do something wrong. It’s very fair. You do something great, you’re rewarded… That’s just kind of been my philosophy, and always has been, is that you go back with your guys that earn their opportunity.
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