A Peek Inside What Caps Players See in Hunter

People can dissect the Dale Hunter plus/minus comment regarding Mike Knuble to their heart’s content;  the odd call up (twice) of Joel Rechlicz; and the equally odd call up of Braden Holtby; it’s all fair game for analysis (and when you figure out a logical answer, please give me a call). But the other side of the coin is to figure out if the guys feel they’re growing under Hunter’s tutelage.

Caps Casino Night isn’t really the venue for asking serious hockey questions, but Karl Alzner, Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle and Mike Green were accommodating nonetheless.  Alzner also had some interesting insight into what Hunter’s locker room directives are like between periods in-game (since HBO 24/7 isn’t there to show us). The guys’ comments don’t answer a lot of the aforementioned questions, but they provide an interesting angle to consider in the current state of the Capitals.

Green said he might have a different perspective than most of the team, since he’s obviously had to spend more time watching hockey rather than playing due to injury, but he does think their style has evolved into a “more playoff-type game.”

“We may not be that run-and-gun team we used to be,” Green said. “What I’m trying to say is, I think the team is in a good place.”

“A lot of stickhandling and corner work,” Beagle said of how playing under Hunter has helped him grow. “I’d say the defensive game, the defensive zone, and blocking shots.”

Alzner says the way Hunter communicates helps the Capitals focus more.

“There’s something about when he’s behind the bench, and the way he describes plays and how he wants us to play, it just makes you focus a little bit more,” Alzner said. “Weird, little things that he reminds you about that sometimes are so easy to forget. I think it just makes you a little bit more aware … Those little things make not only a person better, but an entire team better, and that’s how you win more games, I think.”

Alzner points to how specific Hunter’s directives are between periods.

“Instead of saying, ‘Guys, we have to work harder,’ he says, ‘You’ve got to backcheck harder to the net,’so he’s very specific about it,” Alzner said. “He comes in the dressing room between periods and says, ‘D, we’ve got have tighter gaps. Forwards, we’ve got to backcheck harder. Forwards, we’ve got to backcheck harder to the net.’”

Hendricks said his defensive game has become better under Hunter.

“There are countless hours of video, and their teaching, and the opportunity that he’s given me to play and learn from my mistakes,” was his assessment.

This entry was posted in Dale Hunter, Jay Beagle, Karl Alzner, Matt Hendricks, Mike Green, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Peek Inside What Caps Players See in Hunter

  1. Will2 says:

    It’s not just that he called up Joel Rechlicz but in the game against the Sharks, Joel had 1 minute 30 seconds ice time. So he basically had the team skating with one less D for 58.00 minutes. For a team that is struggling, that is not good coaching at all. The first time Joel was called up I believed he played less than a minute. Just another way to wear down your team and have more players injured. Prediction: Caps miss the Playoffs. It would be perfect justice if the Ducks just make it in.

  2. Alzner says Hunter’s presence makes you focus a little more. I find this assessment puzzling because if that were true, they wouldn’t still be making mind-boggling mistakes that cost them regulation wins. Matt Hendricks’ turnover last night is just the latest example.

  3. Not very says:

    Convincing, is it? Obviously the players aren’t stupid and aren’t going to say anything negative but wow not a ringing endorsement at all for Hunter! The irony of it being Boudreaux had “lost the locker room”. I stand firm just like I did when Gabby was let go. It was an extremely short sighted move. Very Dan Snyder~like and giving us the same results. I like Ted but he blew it. hunter would have been a great asst coach not ready for the bigs though.

  4. I agree that Karl’s answer was interesting on the focus part! That’s why I wanted to make sure I included it–it’s interesting to get their perspective on how they feel they’ve been helped by Hunter and how they’ve grown. The results, of course, are for us to judge!

  5. Not very says:

    not very equals lie btw. And the ofb bloggers collectively asked for bb’s head. If you don’t want to own up to that and support your fellow bloggers that’s on you. Proves my point actually, so many people nowadays fold when things get tough. “it wasn’t me, it was someone else on the team” Thats not a team at all…just like you don’t throw your coach who has the best coaching win percentage in NHL HISTORY to start his career, under the bus!

  6. I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to in this post?

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