Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz joined NHL Live to discuss the game Friday against the Nashville Predators (8 p.m. ET; NHLN). Trotz will be making his first appearance at Bridgestone Arena since coaching the Predators from 1998 to 2014.
"I think it would have been a lot more difficult if it would have happened in the first 10 or 15 games of the season because you're not in your routine totally yet and everything was so familiar," Trotz said. "I have a lot of friends that are here. I have a lot of friends in the building. I know all the security guards and all the ushers.
"I think [Friday] will be fun. It will be really fun to see faces and just get that feel that you're home, because Nashville is really my home. I'm trying to make Washington my home and that will come about. But my kids are still [in Nashville], so this is still home for me. It will be a little bit strange, and I have to get through that game, but once you get close to the game you just get behind the bench. I know for a fact it will be a game and we'll be pumped up. Bridgestone Arena is a great venue with a lot of energy.
"They'll probably be something on the scoreboard, which Nashville always does with bringing back former players, and they're so classy that way. That will probably be a little bit of an emotional moment and then I'll go say let's go win a hockey game, guys, and see if we can pull that off, which will be a tough task."
Though the Predators are off to their best start (29-9-4) under coach Peter Laviolette, the Capitals are flourishing under Trotz. Washington (24-11-8) has earned points in 18 of its past 19 games (14-1-4) and is in third place in the competitive Metropolitan Division.
Trotz believes the turning point of the season was the realization that the Capitals had to get going following a 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 29. Trotz called a meeting to talk about what the Capitals wanted to accomplish and how they were going to do it. As a result, Trotz is coaching a group much different than earlier in the season.
"[We're] a lot more resilient," Trotz said. "I think [the players] come with a work ethic, a professional work ethic, which I think was up and down a little bit too much to have long-term success, or even have any consistency. I think we started with that, and changing some mindsets on how we needed to play. I think accountability was a big factor and I think it sort of came together for us. We pushed the right buttons at the right time and the leadership started pulling the ropes to get it going that way."