The Washington Times - December 8, 2011, 02:25PM

Jeff Schultz played just 3:55 for the Capitals on Wednesday night at the Ottawa Senators. He took one shift in the third period, and coach Dale Hunter explained that the big defenseman didn’t fit with how the game was going.

“We’re on the road. They have the last line change. We don’t want to get in a situation where we’re mismatched defensively,” assistant coach Jim Johnson said Thursday. “It was a very difficult situation, and I told Schultzy that it wasn’t the lack of not trying to get him out there, but every time we had him up we either had a penalty or went on the power play or were on a kill situation, or they were coming up with [Jason] Spezza or [Nick] Foligno’s line. I just didn’t feel it was the right matchup for him and for our team last night.”


Johnson said Schultz “played well” when he was on the ice. But Hunter said the plan was not to limit his ice time going in.

“It’s just a call of the game. It’s one of those things that it’s choices you make,” Hunter said. “We want Schultz to play more, but we decided that we were going with the other guys more.”

That’s the catch-22 – not wanting Schultz to be a liability while also trying to get him to improve what the coaching staff wants.

“It’s just giving him that opportunity, letting him get out and do it and work with him in practice and get him believing,” Johnson said. “I don’t have a problem with him. I’ve always liked him as a player. I think he’s got good skill, good ability, and i’d like to see him – as I’ve told him – just be a little bit more aggressive, close on guys quicker and be a little bit more stronger to play against down in the corners and in front of the net.”

Schultz was not made available to reporters Thursday. Johnson said Schultz is “fitting in” with the Caps.

“It’s not that he doesn’t fit in with what we’re doing. He’s big, he’s got a good stick, he’s got a good reach. I’ve been working with his feet; I think his feet are good. I’d like to see him get a little bit more explosive and a little bit more aggressive in the corners and in front of the net. I think it’s a little bit out of his personality, but there’s no reason why we can’t get that out of him.”

“I think the biggest thing with coaching and with young kids is that you tell them what you expect, you show them how to do it and then you let them go out and do it. That’s what we’re trying to do and show him through video. There’s no question in my mind – he will be good for us.”