Why Todd Reirden Should No Longer be the Coach of the Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals lost to the New York Islanders 5-2 to go down 2-0 in the best of seven first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This marks the fourth loss out of the five postseason games the Capitals have played since the NHL’s restart.

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While they have finished towards the top of the league the past few years, the Capitals have been on a slight decline since their 2018 Stanley Cup Championship. Last year, the Capitals finished the regular season well, winning the Metropolitan Division for a fourth year in a row, but they had an early exit as they lost the Carolina Hurricanes in double overtime in Game 7. The Capitals won the Metropolitan Division yet again this year, but are again in trouble of an early elimination for a second year in a row.

The top two lines and goaltender for the Capitals are the exact same, so what is the difference between their championship team and their now struggling team? The answer is clear: their coaching.

In their championship campaign in 2018, the Capitals were led by elite coach Barry Trotz. The Caps had trouble getting past the second round in Trotz’ first few years with the teams, but managed to break through and claim Lord Stanley’s Cup. After winning the Cup, Trotz left for a new challenge in the New York Islanders where he revamped a crumbling team. 

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When Trotz left, instead of looking for another coach, they turned to Assistant Coach, Todd Reirden to be the team’s new coach. 

With Reirden at the helm, the Capitals’ chokehold on the Metropolitan Division has grown weaker, as they have only won the division by one point the past two years while the Capitals have won the division by five points at the worst under Trotz.

Not only has the Capitals’ head coach changed, but also some of their coaching staff. The Capitals had Lane Lambert running special teams a couple of years ago, but since he left with Trotz, Blaine Forsythe has mainly been in charge of the power play and penalty kill. 

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As many know, the power play is the Capitals’, and especially Captain, Alex Ovechkin’s forte. During Lane’s time with the Capitals, their power play finished in the top ten in the league during each regular season while they’ve finished 12th and 17th for power play percentage in the past couple years. 

While the numbers are certainly not in favor of Reirden and his coaching staff, they are not the main reason why there needs to be a coaching change for the Capitals. The Capitals may place atop the NHL standings, but they certainly don’t look like the Metropolitan Division champs on the ice. 

In 2018, the Capitals played as a team assembled to reach a common goal of claiming hockey’s top prize. I saw a Capitals team that wanted to play, but more importantly, wanted to win. Now, the Caps look lethargic and some players don’t even look like they want to be playing; moreover, some of their lines look like they’ve never played together. 

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Ovi x2

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A coach like Barry Trotz whipped the 2018 Capitals into shape, but right now, it doesn’t look like Todd Reirden is able to do that. I think that Reirden is actually a decent assistant coach, but he’s not ready to be a head coach. 

While Reirden and Forsythe were helpful in the Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup run, it’s time for a change in the coaching staff.

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