The Washington Capitals announced on Monday that they had filled their vacant assistant coaching position by promoting from within as Hershey Bears head coach Scott Allen will join Peter Laviolette’s staff, replacing Scott Arniel. Allen is expected to work mainly with the team’s forward group and penalty-killing units.
The Massachusetts native spoke with reporters about his hiring on Tuesday. The penalty kill was the main topic of conversation.
“I’d like to keep [the Capitals’ penalty kill] in the upper part of the National Hockey League, that’s for sure,” he said. “I think penalty kill for sure can be a difference maker night in, night out in the NHL. In the past, I’ve been a big believer and builder in trying to be fairly aggressive. It certainly plays into personnel and I think the Caps certainly have the personnel to play an aggressive style.”
The Capitals’ penalty kill finished twelfth best in the league last season at 80.4 percent and hung around that area of the league the entire year. The unit truly shined in the postseason however when they kept the Florida Panthers’ fifth-ranked power play scoreless in 18 straight opportunities.
Allen, coming from Hershey, will already have a deep understanding of not only how the organization likes to kill penalties but also of the players at his disposal. The Bears’ penalty kill in the AHL also finished twelfth, posting an 81.6-percent kill rate.
“It’s a tremendous help (to have previous familiarity with personnel),” Allen said. “I did this one other time with the Florida Panthers. I’d been coaching with their minor league team for a couple of years both in San Antonio and then in Portland and then went to the NHL with Florida.
“I think it makes a big difference, especially knowing some of these younger guys who are hoping to break through and become regular NHL players, and what they’re capable of doing,” he continued. “I’m excited to see these guys after another full offseason back in camp and the gains they were capable of making in the offseason. So, I do think it’s a tremendous help to be able to work with Lavi and his staff these last couple of years, obviously be it in the American Hockey League that’s tremendous as well.”
The new assistant has had three seasons of firsthand view at players like Joe Snively, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, and Lucas Johansen who will look to carve out roles on special teams to play regularly for the Capitals in 2022-23.
One player that Allen will not be entirely familiar with and figures to play a big shorthanded role is Connor Brown. Brown said that his “biggest asset” as a player was his penalty killing.
Allen saw those comments and was excited to see that Brown is up for the challenge again in DC. Only one player in the entire league over the past three seasons, former Cap Jay Beagle (2:49), has played on average more shorthanded ice time per game than Brown (2:42).
“First of all with Connor Brown, I was excited when I read the article last week and he mentioned the fact that he loves killing penalties, the way he described himself, the type of player that he is, I think he’s gonna thrive within our system,” Allen said. “Some of it is certainly up for grabs because you’ve got a couple of guys who are question marks who have been very good penalty killers in the past and killed penalties for the Caps. It remains to be seen how it’s going to play out through Training Camp and in talking to the rest of the coaches who they see as some of those top guys. I think spots right now are probably up for grabs as we start Training Camp and progress through the preseason.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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