December 22, 2014

Pucks, sticks and Namaste; a new culture for the Caps

Previous to this season, I covered the Washington Capitals full-time for six seasons, but last Friday was the first time I visited the Caps locker room under new Head Coach Barry Trotz.  It was also the first time I’ve seen players getting quickly out of their pads for…yoga.

That’s right, yoga.

“We think it’s a necessary element in staying fit, staying flexible,” Trotz said. “I think yoga helps with the blood flow. It helps with relaxation, it helps for healing, all those things. That’s the reason that we do that.”

In a league where the games are decided by the thinnest of margins, every team is looking for an edge and Trotz has brought a brand new culture to DC.

“We try to do [team yoga sessions] a couple of times a month,” Trotz said. “If a player misses a game, that’s a lot of money to an organization. So we don’t want our players to miss any time. It’s just another way of [living a] healthy lifestyle, if you will.

Everything from what we eat, to how we train, to how we travel, sleep habits, all those things are considerations for us to have success…by facilitating things like that, you develop good professional habits. We ask our players to try to find that next level and become the best at what that do and give themselves the best chance to be successful. That’s modern sports.”

One man who has rarely been called “modern” is long-time Capitals color man and former NHL player Craig Laughlin.

“We were lucky if we stretched back in the day.”

Laughlin played in the 80’s when working out meant getting out of bed, but now he preaches yoga at the Network Hockey Development Program that he runs.  “We have yoga classes twice a week. I’m such a big believer that I’m going to give it a try this summer.”

It’s a trend that’s spreading throughout the NHL.

“I think probably half the teams, maybe three-quarters of the teams do [yoga]. I know a lot of players do it in the summer,” Trotz added

One player who has done it for years on his own is veteran Capitals forward Brooks Laich.

“Personally I’m a huge believer in yoga. I do yoga twice a week throughout the summer, have for the last five years and I have a [trainer] hired that I just do one-on-one personal yoga — I believe that much in it. I think it’s obviously great for your flexibility but it also allows you to strengthen some muscles that you normally wouldn’t pay any attention to.

We usually do it later on in the week where guys are a little bit more sore and we do a re-energizing and kind of lengthening session, that helps the body recover, rather than putting yourself through a hard workout where maybe you’re not going to get as much from it. I’m a tremendous believer in it and I’m really happy that we implemented it this season.”

Yoga has been stereotyped as more of a workout for women, but that stereotype is being broken.

“I’ve seen yoga grow and more men coming to classes,” says Karolynn Hilaski, who is a registered and trained yoga instructor at Core Power Yoga in DC.

“I believe that men are also seeing results in flexibility, range of motion, and their breathing, which all leads to better performance with physical activities such as personal fitness goals and sports.  Alongside, mental clarity is known to be a huge part of yoga. This also aids in better performance in many activities including work, everyday life, and sport related activities.”

An 82-game regular season can put a huge toll on your body — not only physically, but mentally as well — which is another big benefit of yoga.

“I think it’s just a little different break for the guys, schedules been pretty hectic as of late,” Capitals veteran forward Joel Ward said. “Try to mix in different activities, just try to keep things fresh and keep the mind going. It’s been helpful for sure.

The guys have been adapting really well and obviously you want to maintain that flexibility as much as you can and at the same time maintain and keeping that brain moving.”

Yoga is here to stay and will only rise in popularity as more and more sports teams implement it.  So next time you run into your favorite Caps player, make sure to say “Namaste”.

______

Sky Kerstein is a Contributor to District Sports Page. Sky grew up in Chantilly, Virginia and is a 2001 graduate of Chantilly High School. Sky graduated in 2005 from Western Michigan University where he was a communications major. Sky got his start in radio interning for WTOP sports and then became the Caps reporter for the Capitals Radio Network. Sky also was a producer for two years for Major League Baseball Network Radio on SiriusXM Radio. Sky was the Capitals beat reporter at 106.7 The FAN for several seasons and has covered the Redskins, Nationals & Wizards for The FAN. Sky also calls high school play by play for the Gameday Broadcast Network and has covered every professional team in the DC and Baltimore regions. You can follow Sky on Twitter @SkyKerstein.

Washington Capitals Friday Practice Update: Oates, Alzner, Erskine

ARLINGTON, VA–The Washington Capitals held one last practice today before they head out on a three-game road trip that could decide the season.

Eric Fehr (upper body) skated for about 10 minutes before practice, but came off the ice.

John Erskine (upper body), Tomas Kundratek (lower body) & Tom Poti (upper body) all skated today.

Erskine said, “I don’t think I’m ready to play a game yet, but I think I’m getting closer.”

He still hopes to play this weekend or Tuesday.

Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates said Erskine is going on the trip.  They aren’t sure about Tomas Kundratek and Tom Poti isn’t going on the trip.  Eric Fehr isn’t going on the trip to start, will skate at KCI and if he feels good could meet them in Carolina.

Jack Hillen (illness) was back on the ice today after not skating yesterday.

Caps forward lines today: Johansson-Backstrom-Ovi, Laich-Ribeiro-Brouwer, Chimera-Perreault-Ward, Volpatti-Hendricks-Beagle-Wolski

Ovechkin (stitches in chin) left practice early, but Oates says it’s nothing and that he asked to come off early and already got a good sweat in.

Oates said he hasn’t decided who will be in net tomorrow, but did say Braden Holtby & Michal Neuvirth will split the weekend between Buffalo and Philadelphia.

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Karl Alzner & John Erskine had to say following practice today.

Adam Oates Practice Audio

03-29-13 Adam Oates Practice RAW

Karl Alzner Practice Audio

03-29-13 Karl Alzner Practice RAW

John Erskine Practice Audio

03-29-13 John Erskine Practice RAW

Washington Capitals Thursday Practice Update: Ovi Get’s Stitches

ARLINGTON, VA–The Washington Capitals were back on the ice Thursday for practice after having the previous rare day off.  The Caps, who don’t play again until Saturday in Buffalo, were without Eric Fehr (upper body), Jack Hillen (illness) & John Erskine (upper body) for practice.

Erskine skated for about 20 minutes before practice, but came off about ten minutes before started.

Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates said Erskine “went at it pretty hard” yesterday and that they gave him a little rest today to see how he responds tomorrow and that they are still “hoping for the weekend” for his return.

Oates said Eric Fehr (day-to-day, upper body) is “getting better, but still a ways away”.

The Caps forward lines today looked like: Johansson-Backstrom-Ovi, Laich-Ribeiro-Brouwer, Chimera-Perreault-Ward, Volpatti-Hendricks-Beagle-Wolski.

Alex Ovechkin left practice bleeding after getting hit in the chin with a puck and went to the doctors to get stitches.

“Part of the job,” Oates said on Ovechkin getting stitches.

Ovechkin tweeted that he got 22 stitches, he should be fine for the weekend.

Tomas Kundratek (lower body) fully practiced today and Oates says they are hoping for his return this weekend as well.

Tom Poti (upper body) also fully practiced.  He said he’s still “day-to-day” and that he felt better today, but not great.

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Brooks Laich, Mike Ribeiro, Troy Brouwer, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Poti & Michal Neuvirth had to say following practice today.

Adam Oates Practice Audio

03-28-13 Adam Oates Practice RAW

Brooks Laich Practice Audio

03-28-13 Brooks Laich Practice RAW

Mike Ribeiro Practice Audio

03-28-13 Mike Ribeiro Practice RAW

Troy Brouwer Practice Audio

03-28-13 Troy Brouwer Practice RAW

Nicklas Backstrom Practice Audio

03-28-13 Nicklas Backstrom Practice RAW

Tom Poti Practice Audio

03-28-13 Tom Poti Practice RAW

Michal Neuvirth Practice Audio

03-28-13 Michal Neuvirth Practice RAW

Washington Capitals Game 33 Postgame Reaction: Oates, Ovechkin & More!

WASHINGTON–The Washington Capitals fell to the New York Islanders 3-2 at Verizon Center and fell back in the playoff race as they try and claw themselves back into it.

“Tonight we just didn’t play the system the way we had to to make it a simple hockey game, we made it difficult on ourselves,” Caps forward Matt Hendricks said.

Hendricks added,  “I don’t think we came out with the fire that we needed, with the intensity that we needed.”

The Islanders scored two goals in the first eight minutes, only to see the Caps score two in the second period to tie it up.  But in the third, miscommunication between Mike Green and Brooks Laich cost them as Matt Moulson took the puck away from Green and found John Tavares who buried the game winner.

“I could certainly make a better play to help Mike [Green] out there,”  Laich said.

Laich added that he apologized to Green.

Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates said it was on both of them and said “It was a tired play”.

The Caps will have plenty of time to think about this one as they don’t play again until Saturday.

“The guys need rest,”  Oates said.  “They need rest mentally and then we need some practice time. We haven’t been able to practice in two weeks.”

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, Braden Holtby, Mike Ribeiro, Matt Hendricks & Joel Ward had to say following the loss.

Adam Oates Postgame Audio

03-26-13 Adam Oates Postgame RAW

Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio

03-26-13 Alex Ovechkin Postgame RAW

Brooks Laich Postgame Audio

03-26-13 Brooks Laich Postgame RAW

Braden Holtby Postgame Audio

03-26-13 Braden Holtby Postgame RAW

Mike Ribeiro Postgame Audio

03-26-13 Mike Ribeiro Postgame RAW

Matt Hendricks Postgame Audio

03-26-13 Matt Hendricks Postgame RAW

Joel Ward Postgame Audio

03-26-13 Joel Ward Postgame RAW

Capitals Morning Skate Update: Oates, Brouwer, Hillen

ARLINGTON, VA-The Washington Capitals (15-16-1, 31 points) host the New York Islanders (14-15-3, 31 points) in another huge game tonight as they try to get back into the playoffs.  The Caps lost to the Islanders 5-2 earlier this month in Long Island and would like some revenge tonight.

“We got a little score to settle with the Islanders,”  Troy Brouwer said.

The Caps haven’t beat the Islanders in regulation in over two years.

Brouwer added, “We’re both trying to make the playoffs. It’s going to be a very, very enthusiastic spirited game tonight.”

The Caps are two points out of 8th place in the East, but the Rangers have a game in hand.

The Caps lines tonight are likely: Johansson-Backstrom-Ovi, Laich-Ribeiro-Brouwer, Chimera-Perreault-Wolski, Hendricks-Beagle-Ward, Alzner-Green, Hillen-Carlson, Orlov-Oleksy.

Braden Holtby (13-10-0, 2.64 GAA, .917 Save pct.) is making his sixth straight start tonight.

Oates said Michal Neuvirth, who hasn’t played since March 16th, will play one of the two back-to-back games this weekend, either at Buffalo or at Philly.

Eric Fehr is day-to-day with an upper body injury and out tonight.  Tom Poti (upper body), John Erskine (upper body) & Tomas Kundratek (lower body, sprained right MCL) are all on IR and not playing tonight.

Schultz, Fehr & Volpatti will be the scratches.

The Caps have 16 losses this season and in 14 of them they’ve given up a power play goal.  The Caps have 15 wins and in 12 of them they’ve scored a power play goal.

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Troy Brouwer & Jack Hillen had to say following the morning skate today.

Adam Oates Practice Audio

03-26-13 Adam Oates Practice RAW

Troy Brouwer Practice Audio

03-26-13 Troy Brouwer Practice RAW

Jack Hillen Practice Audio

03-26-13 Jack Hillen Practice RAW

Washington Capitals Practice Update for March 1: Green Re-Injured Groin

ARLINGTON, VA–The Washington Capitals (7-11-1, 15 points, last in the Eastern Conference) held practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex today before they head to Winnipeg tomorrow to play the streaking Jets, winner of their last three and five of their last six, and end their two-game road trip.

Mike Green (groin) did not practice today after playing the last two games and is not going on the trip.

“It’s just not quite feeling right,”  Oates said.  “We’re taking a step back until he heals, 100 percent.”

Green was second in time on ice against Carolina at 21:54 and led the team against the Flyers at 22:14.

“We’ll see how he is when we come back,”  Oates said on Green.  “Maybe a couple treatments and he feels that much better.”

Watch for Tomas Kundratek to be with Karl Alzner on the top defensive pairing tomorrow.

The Caps also shuffled their lines, Matt Hendricks was moved to the number one line, Jason Chimera to the third line and Wojtek Wolski to the fourth line.

“A change. Give someone else a shot there,”  Oates said on moving Hendricks to the number one line.  “Kind of by committee right now until I feel that there’s a real guy who can be entrenched there.”

The Caps forward lines at practice today looked like: Hendricks-Ribeiro-Ovechkin, Fehr-Backstrom-Brouwer, Chimera-Perreault-Ward, Wolski-Beagle-Crabb.

Marcus Johansson (upper body, on injured reserve) worked in with the fourth line.  He has missed the past eight games and has not been cleared for contact.  Aaron Volpatti, who the acquired off waivers yesterday from the Vancouver Canucks, will meet the team in Winnipeg and will be on the fourth line tomorrow.  If he plays, Wolski could be the odd man out.  Volpatti, who is a grinder/fighter, has played in 16 games for the Canucks this season and has one goal, zero assists and 28 penalty minutes.

“He’s a good hard nose guy, works hard,”  Caps forward Troy Brouwer said on Volpatti.

Braden Holtby (6-7-0, 3.26 GAA, .899 Save pct.) will start his ninth straight tomorrow.

Brooks Laich (groin) didn’t practice and hasn’t practiced with the team since February 16th.  Oates had no update on Laich.

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, Mike Ribeiro, Matt Hendricks & Eric Fehr had to say following practice today.

Adam Oates Practice Audio

03-01-13 Adam Oates Practice RAW

Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio

03-01-13 Alex Ovechkin Practice RAW

Troy Brouwer Practice Audio

03-01-13 Troy Brouwer Practice RAW

Mike Ribeiro Practice Audio

03-01-13 Mike Ribeiro Practice RAW

Matt Hendricks Practice Audio

03-01-13 Matt Hendricks Practice RAW

Eric Fehr Practice Audio

03-01-13 Eric Fehr Practice RAW

Washington Capitals Game 18 Postgame Audio: Oates, Backstrom, Holtby & More

WASHINGTON–The Washington Capitals took it to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 at Verizon Center for their seventh win of the season as they try and get back into the playoff race.

“Definitely the first two periods,”  Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates said on if this was one of their most complete games.

The Caps dominated the first two periods and at one point were up 31-15 on shots over the Hurricanes.

“That’s by far the best I’ve seen us play,”  Holtby, who stopped 33 on the way to his second shutout of the season, said on a ten minute span in the second that they just dominated.  “Probably since I’ve been in the organization.”

John Erskine got his second goal of the season, one day after signing a two-year extension and Holtby understands how big he is to their success.

“He’s playing outstanding for us. He’s the grit that we need back there.”

The Caps had 40 shots on goal, and even though the Hurricanes Cam Ward was outstanding in net, he couldn’t stop all the Caps chances.

“If you get chances, that means you are doing some good things,”  Caps forward Joel Ward, who was stopped by Cam Ward on maybe the save of the season so far, said. “I’ve had a few tonight myself and some other guys as well. Obviously, it’s a good feeling, getting chances. I thought we played a good team game. Every line was going and everyone had chances.”

The Caps don’t have much time to enjoy this win, they are taking the train up tonight to play the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow.

“We’ll enjoy it for a little while and then tomorrow morning we’re going to focus on Philly,”  Oates said.  “And we have to get back to work.”

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, John Erskine & Joel Ward had to say following the win.

Adam Oates Postgame Audio

02-26-13 Adam Oates Postgame RAW

Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio

02-26-13 Nicklas Backstrom Postgame RAW

Braden Holtby Postgame Audio

02-26-13 Braden Holtby Postgame RAW

John Erskine Postgame Audio

02-26-13 John Erskine Postgame RAW

Joel Ward Postgame Audio

02-26-13 Joel Ward Postgame RAW

Washington Capitals Re-Sign Holtby & Erskine; Brouwer goes off as Caps prepare for Canes

ARLINGTON, VA–Crazy day today in Arlington as the Washington Capitals re-signed goalie Braden Holtby and defenseman John Erskine to two-year deals as they prepare for the return of Alexander Semin and the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow.

Braden Holtby, 23, signed a two-year contract extension worth $3.7 million.  Holtby has has played in eleven games this season, has a  5-6-0 record with a 3.37 GAA and a .896 Save pct. plus one shut out.  Holtby had a 1.95 GAA, .935 save pct. in the playoffs last season.  Holtby will start his seventh game in a row tomorrow night.

“Just trying to do it ahead of time,”  Capitals General Manager George McPhee said.  “We all believe there is a lot of upside there, good young goalie.”

John Erskine, 32, signed a two-year contract extension worth $3.925 million.  Erskine has played in eleven games this season and has one goal and one assist.  This is John Erskine’s eleventh NHL season and has been playing with John Carlson for the majority of the year.

“I thought he should’ve played more last year,”  McPhee said on Erskine.  “Unfortunately he didn’t.”

The veteran defenseman is very happy with his current role.

“Things have worked out this season and I’m glad to be here a couple more years,”  Erskine said.

If that wasn’t enough, forward Troy Brouwer went off on Alexander Semin and the system they played under Bruce Boudreau.

“Some nights you didn’t even know if he was gonna come to the rink,”  Brouwer said on Semin.

On playing under Bruce Boudreau, Brouwer said, “It was very laxidasical…kind of guys were able to do whatever they pleased. There wasn’t a whole lot of accountability and then when we had a little bit of trouble and there needed to be accountability it wasn’t received exactly with open arms, I’ll say.”

Brouwer does though enjoy playing under Adam Oates, “Everyone’s still accountable. Everyone has to do their job, but he’s letting guys play the way that makes them successful.”

Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin says he still talks to Semin once a week and wishes he was still playing here.

“Yeah. Of course. He’s great player, good guy, but you know it’s a business.”

On the injury front…Mike Green (groin) says he’s “100 percent” and ready to go for tomorrow.

Marcus Johansson (upper body) is still not ready to go.  “Marcus is progressing,”  McPhee said.  “We’ll see how he is the next few days.”

Nicklas Backstrom (sick) missed practice today and went to go see the doctor.   “A little under the weather, we’ll see how he is tomorrow morning,”  McPhee said.

Jason Chimera (lower body) left practice early today.  “Nothing major, should be fine. Just being careful,”  McPhee said.

Brooks Laich (groin) hasn’t skated in nine days.  McPhee says he is “concerned about it” and has his “fingers crossed”.  McPhee added that Laich’s current treatment that he is on takes two weeks.

McPhee said “we’ll see” if they’ll need to make a recall tomorrow and added that “it’s already been discussed and what we might do if we need to recall”.

The Caps forward lines today looked like Chimera-Ribeiro-Ovechkin, Fehr-Johansson-Brouwer, Wolski-Perreault-Ward, Hendricks-Beagle-Crabb.

Oates said we could see Michal Neuvirth in net on Wednesday in Philadelphia on the second game of a back-to-back.

Listen here to what George McPhee, Adam Oates, Troy Brouwer, Braden Holtby, John Erskine, Mike Green, Karl Alzner, Alex Ovechkin & Michal Neuvirth.

George McPhee Practice Audio

02-25-13 George McPhee Presser RAW

Adam Oates Practice Audio

02-25-13 Adam Oates Practice RAW

Troy Brouwer Practice Audio

02-25-13 Troy Brouwer Practice RAW

Braden Holtby Practice Audio

02-25-13 Braden Holtby Practice RAW

John Erskine Practice Audio

02-25-13 John Erskine Practice RAW

Mike Green Practice Audio

02-25-13 Mike Green Practice RAW

Karl Alzner Practice Audio

02-25-13 Karl Alzner Practice RAW

Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio

02-25-13 Alex Ovechkin Practice RAW

Michal Neuvirth Practice Audio

02-25-13 Michal Neuvirth Practice RAW

 

Washington Capitals Practice Update & Audio: Oates, Ovi, Green & More

ARLINGTON, VA–The Washington Capitals held their final practice before the play the New Jersey Devils at noon tomorrow.  Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (4-6-0, 3.62 GAA, .891 Save pct.) will start his sixth straight game tomorrow.

The Caps switched forward lines a bit today.  The new lines were: Chimera-Ribeiro-Ovechkin, Fehr-Backstrom-Brouwer, Wolski-Perreault-Ward, Hendricks-Beagle-Crabb.

Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates decided to switch Eric Fehr and Wojtek Wolski on the second and third lines.

“I want to give Fehrsie [Fehr] a few more minutes playing with Nick [Backstrom] & Brouw [Brouwer] just because I thought he’s really been playing good hockey for us and I want to test chemistry…give WoJo [Wolski] a chance to take a step back, maybe not try and be too fancy and simplify his game a little.”

Mike Green (lower body) says “I feel good”  and that he was able to be a little more explosive today.

Green added, “We’ll see…I’m hoping” on giving it a go tomorrow.

Oates had no updates on Brooks Laich (groin) and Marcus Johansson (upper body).  Laich didn’t skate for the sixth day in a row and Johansson worked in with the fourth line.

Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin didn’t agree with his penalty in the third period last night and jokingly said  “Referee out of shape…they need some times too to be in shape.”

Oates had no excuses on the six minor penalties the Caps took in the third period last night.

“You can’t blame the refs for six. You can’t. That’s on us.”

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Mike Ribeiro & Joel Ward had to say following practice today.

Adam Oates Practice Audio

02-22-13 Adam Oates Practice RAW

Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio

02-22-13 Alex Ovechkin Practice RAW

Mike Green Practice Audio

02-22-13 Mike Green Practice RAW

Mike Ribeiro Practice Audio

02-22-13 Mike Ribeiro Practice RAW

Joel Ward Practice Audio

02-22-13 Joel Ward Practice RAW

 

Washington Capitals Game 16 Postgame Audio: Oates, Brouwer, Backstrom & More

WASHINGTON–The Washington Capitals are back in the basement of the NHL as they have a total collapse in the third period against the New Jersey Devils and fall 3-2.

“It’s hard,”  Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said.  “It’s very frustrating. I thought we were in pretty good control there, playing good. They came out hard in the first and we stuck with it there and that’s what we want to see from this team. It’s frustrating, what happened in the third period there.”

The Capitals committed six minors in the third, five of which put them shorthanded and they were down two men twice.

“You start the third period, you’ve got a lead, then you give them two 5-on-3s in one period, obviously that’s too much,”  Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates said.  “I thought maybe a couple of calls were tough calls. I didn’t think Alex’s was a call. Bottom line is, that’s too many. It’s been too many times.”

Capitals forward Troy Brouwer received a ten minute misconduct following the game for yelling at the officials and would not talk about the officiating following the loss.

“I’m not discussing it right now. I don’t feel like getting fined tonight.”

But Brouwer did say, “We feel like we were robbed a little bit tonight. Two points, one point, anything kind of that was taken away from us there.”

Alzner summed up the night.

“I thought we played pretty decent. Besides that first ten minutes or whatever it was. I don’t know – whatever the time was in the third – we played a good hockey game. So we take what we’ve been taking out of the games is that we’re right there. We just got to find a way to finish every game because we haven’t been doing it.”

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Troy Brouwer, Nicklas Backstrom, Karl Alzner & Mathieu Perreault had to say following the loss.

Adam Oates Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Adam Oates Postgame RAW

Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Troy Brouwer Postgame RAW

Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Nicklas Backstrom Postgame RAW

Karl Alzner Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Karl Alzner Postgame RAW

Mathieu Perreault Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Mathieu Perreault Postgame RAW

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