Barry Trotz had to laugh when he thought about how many playoff games he has coached against the Penguins in each of the past three seasons. And he had to laugh that even after he left the Capitals to coach the Islanders, he still can’t get away from Pittsburgh, with Game 1 of their first-round series set for Wednesday night at the Coliseum.
Trotz’s Capitals team lost to the Penguins in 2016 and 2017, as Pittsburgh went on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. He then finally broke through last season, when his squad beat Sidney Crosby & Co. in the second round en route to the Caps’ first championship.
It’s 19 playoffs games in the past three years, so Trotz knows what’s coming.
“It was funny, we talked about all three series, they all had their own twists. I’ll keep that in-house,” Trotz said after Monday’s practice on Long Island. “They beat us doing certain things, we beat them doing certain things. It’s just playing a team  times in playoffs in three straight years, it’s just a lot of hockey and a lot of knowledge on each side.”
Of course, these Islanders are quite a bit different than those Capitals, but the system Trotz runs hasn’t changed all that much from team to team. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan will surely take note, as they split their season series — each team going 2-1-1 — with the last game being all the way back on Dec. 10.
“Both teams aren’t the same team they were back then,” Trotz said. “I think both teams will go back to their respective identities and we’ll see where they are come Wednesday.”
Trotz was behind the visiting bench for the most recent playoff game at the Coliseum, coming with Game 6 of the first-round series in 2015, a game the Islanders would win, 3-1, before losing Game 7 in Washington.
“You know what sticks out in my mind more than anything? A half hour before warm-ups in Game 6, and the building underneath was shaking because people were cheering already,” Trotz said. “That tells you everything about it.”
It does not seem like Trotz is planning on doing any lineup juggling, which means he’s likely sticking with veteran winger Tom Kuhnhackl, who has 47 games of playoff experience, all with the Penguins while winning both of those Cups.
Kuhnhackl played just 36 games for the Islanders in the regular season, but was in for the final five straight, moving up in the lineup and bumping 22-year-old Michael Dal Colle into street clothes for the finale on Saturday in Washington.
Published at Tue, 09 Apr 2019 07:06:04 +0000