Over 26 years of coaching between the minors and the National Hockey League, new Washington Capitals assistant coach Scott Allen has maintained a high standard of play, specifically on the penalty kill.
He is ready to carry that success — and a new philosophy — over to the Capitals, who ranked 12th on the kill last season (80.4 percent).
“I’d like to keep it in the upper part of the NHL, that’s for sure… a penalty kill can be a difference maker night in and night out,” Allen said. “I’ve been a big believer and builder in trying to be fairly aggressive,” Allen said. “It certainly plays into personnel. And the Capitals certainly have the personnel to play an aggressive style.”
Prior to his hiring on Monday, Allen spent the last three years with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. He was an assistant coach for two seasons before being promoted to head coach in 2021-22. Allen led the Bears to a Calder Cup playoff berth as the team went 34-32-6-4 and surrendered just 209 goals against all season (11th best in the AHL).
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the minors. I mean people use the term, ‘paying their dues.’ I don’t look at that for one second. I’ve been so fortunate and extremely lucky. I’ve coached the last 26 years straight through pro hockey between the minors and NHL from the beginning season to the end,” Allen said, adding of his new gig, “It’s the NHL. It’s extremely exciting; the Capitals organization is certainly second to none. But I’m also coming from a strong organization in the AHL as well with the foundation of being on the Washington Capitals with the Hershey Bears. I’ve been fortunate.”
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Before coming to Hershey, Allen coached in the NHL, AHL and ECHL. He was an assistant with the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and most recently up in the NHL, the Arizona Coyotes. During his tenure in Arizona, he helped the Coyotes rank first in the NHL in penalty kill percentage (85) in 2018-19 and fifth in goals-against per game (2.68).
Allen attributes Arizona’s ability to remain in playoff territory that season not only to the PK but to goaltending, which is also integral to a strong kill. The Coyotes netminder at the time? No other than the newest Washington goalie Darcy Kuemper.
“I am extremely excited about it,” Allen said of Kuemper. He’s a great person first and foremost, his teammates love him, he battles hard in front of them… We were still in the playoff hunt and the biggest reason we were in the playoff hunt was because of our goaltending.”
Beyond that, Allen said that he is also excited to see what the Capitals’ newest members can do. Right now, there are vacancies with Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin’s timetables unknown and Tom Wilson out until at least December. Connor Brown discussed his love for penalty killing last week, and Allen said he’s excited to see more from him and also see what the younger guys can do as well.
“I think he’s going to thrive within our system,” Allen said. “Some of it is certainly up for grabs because you got a couple of guys are question marks who have been very good penalty killers in the past. It remains to be seen how it’s going to play out through training camp and talking with the rest of the coaches as they see are those top guys. I think spots right now are up for grabs.”
For now, he is just excited to get started with Peter Laviolette and his staff as he works closely with the team’s kill and forwards. The two have coached against each other on multiple occasions, but will now get to coach for the same NHL team.
“It’s a tremendous help to be able to work with Lavi and his staff,” Allen said. “These last couple years, obviously be it in the AHL, that’s tremendous as well.”