11/05/2015 in Uncategorized
Since the Winter Classic, forward Michael Latta had been scratched nine times in 10 games, so he asked Coach Barry Trotz how he could climb back into the lineup Andre Burakovsky Jersey. Get an opportunity, Trotz told him, and when you do, show what you can do.
That chance came Wednesday night, when a domino effect bumped forward Andre Burakovsky into the press box, because he was too loose in defensive coverage against Columbus, and forward Jay Beagle onto the top line, because he has become Trotz s favorite fix for those types of issues.
So Latta, for just the third time this calendar year, returned to the ice for a game Marcus Johansson Jersey. He centered the fourth line during a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. After he walloped Steve Downie, rising to the defense of two teammates he believed had been the victims of cheap shots, the Capitals scored twice within two minutes. He showed Trotz, without question, what he could do.
It was good, Latta said. At first, kind of felt little things, my timing was a little off, but as the game went on, I thought it got a lot better, a lot smoother.
Rested and ready, having logged fewer than 15 minutes of total ice time in January before Wednesday s blowout at Verizon Center Brooks Laich Jersey, Latta was eager to make an impression. Trotz had insisted several times that he needed to return Latta back to the lineup, yet Latta continued to sit. He started Trotz s homecoming in Nashville, centering Brooks Laich and Joel Ward, but quickly returned to his home on the fourth. Otherwise, after New Year s Day, he practiced, then watched from the upper levels.
Latta has long seen himself as more than a fourth-line grinder, still recalling his 73- and 89-point seasons in juniors with the Guelph Storm, and a nifty dangle moved back up this assertion. He dragged the puck around his defender, just like he showed in mid-December against New Jersey Justin Peters Jersey, and, had he finished the play by beating goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, probably would have made the night s highlight reels.
Back to my junior days there for a second, Latta said later, inside the Capitals locker room. Would be nice to get one there. I was close, but as long as the team wins, it doesn t matter to me.
Starting just 25 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, Latta acquitted himself well with a low-event, 42 percent Corsi-for against Pittsburgh – basically, 42 percent of even-strength shot attempts went Washington s way with him on the ice, though just 12 total shots were attempted — and earned brownie points in the locker room for slugging Downie, all with one arm removed from his sleeve.
Downie had angled for a fight with Pittsburgh down 2-0, going after both Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Orpik, so Latta stepped in. Locked together, Downie wrestled Latta s right arm from inside its sweater.
When he switched, I was caught up, when that happens you ve … been in too many fights, Latta said.
So with his shoulder pads exposed, Latta kept winding back and swinging. Once the officials blew the fight dead, Downie was bleeding from his forehead. Latta spit, adjusted his visor and took his five-minute major.
I thought going into that spot right there, he did a really good job, Trotz said. Credit to him, because he s missed some games.
During his postgame news conference, Trotz recalled telling Burakovsky that sitting Wednesday doesn t mean you re out of the lineup for any long period of time, but hammering their divisional rivals by four goals might make it tough to change things for Saturday s visit to Montreal. That could mean Latta, for the first time since Dec. 29-Jan. 1, could start consecutive games.
Later, when asked about the Capitals flipping Pittsburgh s more aggressive goals back onto their visitors, Trotz s answer began with his latest addition to the lineup.
We put Michael Latta in there, and he was really good, Trotz said. I think obviously they were coming in our building and I think they were trying to make a statement, and we responded. We tightened our game up, and we had everybody do a really good job tonight, in all aspects of the game