Checkmate: Barry Trotz Schools Todd Reirden

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Posted August 21, 2020

The Washington Capitals and New York Islanders said from the onset of the series that the teams knew each other, and there would be no secrets. It would be a game of chess between head coaches Barry Trotz and Todd Reirden.

The result, a decisive 4 games to 1 victory for Trotz and the Islanders.

This was evident in all facets of the game. Perhaps most evident in the third period of Game 5. With the Isles holding a 2-0 lead, they turtled and played a neutral zone trap. The counter move from Reirden and the Caps? Dump and chase. Again. Again. And again.

The Isles were always the first team to the puck and then they just dumped it as well. They were happy to play the entire third period in the neutral zone. Except when they dumped it in, they were still first to the puck. The Caps couldn’t get out of the zone, just like in Game 3. Even with an empty net, the Caps’ forecheck was nonexistent.

The Caps had a total of two shots on net in the third period, and none in the last ~13 minutes of the game. With a roster as skilled as the Caps, that’s inexcusable.

The Caps’ back-to-back first round exits will fall heavily on a lot of shoulders. But through everything else, Reirden was out-coached.

Reirden now has to use the last two seasons as a learning experience. If lessons have been learned, will he get the chance to show it behind the Washington bench? With Braden Holtby likely gone and Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson another year older, the clock on the Caps’ championship window is ticking ever closely to 0:00. It is up to Brian MacLellan and Dick Patrick to decide whether or not Reirden gets another minute behind the bench, and considering the Caps’ (lack of) effort, it’s not looking good.

For Caps, Playoff Loss to Islanders Is Worst In Years