More to The Story
Working on a Brooks Laich piece for caps.com, I found myself with a few snippets left over, things that generally would wind up on the cutting room floor. But I hate leaving things on the cutting room floor, especially good and/or insightful quotes from players and coaches. I know you’d all rather hear what they have to say than read what I have to write, so here are a few things I can share with you.
Here’s Laich on the difference between playing center and playing wing, Basic stuff for most, but useful for some. Especially after a long summer away from the rink:
“It’s a little different. Your responsibilities in the defensive zone are a little different. A centerman obviously plays a little more down low in his own zone. As a winger, as soon as the puck is turned over we want to be on a horse and attacking right away. We want to try to get in on the forecheck a little more. A center covers more area and wingers are more explosive, trying to win your battles on the wall and join the rush.”
Comparing two players is often an apples-and-oranges exercise, but the numbers Matt Pettinger had put up going into his third full NHL season are similar to those amassed by Laich at the same stage.
Here’s Pettinger through two full seasons: 143 games, 14-8-22, 83 PIM and minus-18.
Here’s Laich through two full seasons: 151 games, 15-25-40, 57 PIM and minus-12.
With that in mind, I asked Caps coach Glen Hanlon what he thought of the two. I added that Laich might not get the opportunity that Pettinger got in his third season, because there is more surrounding talent on the team now. It’s worth recalling that Pettinger worked his bag off and waited through a tough period when he was a healthy scratch before finally cracking the lineup on a regular basis. And going on to score 20 goals that season. Here’s what Hanlon said in reply:
“Petty was a lucky S.O.B. because he had me for a coach in Portland. I knew what he could do. And then when I came here, I sort of knew what he could do. I felt comfortable with him. But you don’t just give those opportunities; you’ve got to earn them. And once you get it, you’ve got to keep it. And my livelihood is tied with their success also. I’m not here to do favors for anybody. Most of these guys, they just need a coach to have the faith in them and to know what they can do. A guy like Brooks, I’m getting comfortable in that regard. He will be the benefactor of that now, and we are kind of finding some roles [for him].”
And finally, on the distinct possibility of Laich playing more on wing than up the middle this season:
“These are all tough adjustments for guys. But it’s the price you have to pay to win hockey games and make the playoffs and be successful.”
You can find the original story on caps.com right here.