Todd Reirden 'waited too long' to discipline under-performing Capitals

Chris Lingebach
February 05, 2019 - 6:41 pm
Todd Reirden 'waited too long' to discipline under-performing Capitals

James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Recent criticisms of first-year Capitals head coach Todd Reirden are warranted, Alan May says.

Too many players haven't been playing correctly for a long time, and Reirden waited too long into the season to crack the whip, May told The Junkies during The Morning Skate, presented by D.C. Lottery.

"I'll say (the criticism's) warranted on Todd," May said. "A young coach. It's a little different making the decision when you're the top guy. Just like us, with you guys in the media and me an analyst, it's easy to make all the decisions when you're sitting there 300 feet up in the press box."

Reirden chose Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Bruins – the Capitals' 52nd game of the season – to finally take charge, benching Dmitrij Jaskin and Evgeny Kuznetsov for taking dumb penalties back-to-back in the first period.

"It probably should have been done at the 30-game mark," May said. "Because, to wait to the 52-game stretch of the season, it's kind of tough because it's already become an epidemic."

"You look at what (Reirden's) done, he's waited too long to discipline players and that's a learning lesson," he said. "Do I think he's a great coach still? Yeah, I do. But he waited a little long, was a little too patient, and now he's got to show some tough love to the team."

"I thought the tough love should have been shown to the players that were playing very poorly," he said, "and Kuznetsov was a guy that was absent for a long stretch for the Caps and we weren't getting anywhere close to an A- or a B-level performance out of him. He is, in my opinion and most people's opinion that follow the game, one of the top-10 most talented players in the league and we think he should be near the top of the league in scoring.

"He should be able to get two points a night. He should have not just 10 or 11 goals, he should be up close to 20, 25 already. (Reirden) let that go on."

May also pointed to a lagging effort from T.J. Oshie, whom he says "can play a lot better than he's been playing" despite frequently giving the puck away and over-handling the puck.

"T.J. Oshie has not been playing properly and he continues to get the big-time ice time out there," he said, adding, "Any time anything's in doubt, T.J. Oshie's on the ice."

Lars Eller hasn't been up to snuff either, with May observing Eller hasn't made "anywhere near the right decisions with the puck."

Next, May turned his ire to the declining play of Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov, a defensive pair he clarified is the Caps' "top shutdown pair," not their top two defensemen, a classification error May notes is made often "in the print around here."

"These guys, it was so safe when you saw them go on the ice late last season," said May. "You thought, 'Alright, they're gonna shut down the team's top guys.'"

"I've watched Matt a long time because I was in Dallas forever and he played there forever," he said. "Every play he made with the puck the other night was the wrong play, and normally he's a simple guy. Orlov had a really tough game the other night. Those two guys paired together were a disaster against the Bruins. You look at 'em, I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on, because they're such good players.

"They normally make the right play every single time and it was like they were making the wrong pass every single time. So the losing's definitely in their head, it's definitely affected them, but I think Todd just continues to roll some of those guys out. I think tough love with ice time more than penalties is, to me, tough love on how guys are playing is more important than who's taking a penalty."

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