ARLINGTON, VA–The Washington Capitals held their first optional practice today under Adam Oates at KCI as they prepare for the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night at Verizon Center.
The players who didn’t take part in practice Wednesday morning were Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Wojtek Wolski, Mike Ribeiro, Troy Brouwer, Mike Green and Brooks Laich, who hasn’t practiced with the team this season. Jack Hillen skated for about 20 minutes before practice, but came off the ice when practice started.
Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates says Laich (groin) is still skating on his own and they are being “cautious” with him. Oates said there is no time-frame for Hillen’s (upper body) return.
Oates said Michal Neuvirth will make his first start of the season tomorrow at home against the Montreal Canadiens.
“I’m gonna need to focus and play all 60 minutes, good, solid hockey,” Neuvirth said. “I had a good practice today and I’m feeling good.”
This isn’t a surprise since they want to give Neuvirth’s first start of the season at home, plus they have a back-to-back on Thursday and Friday. Watch for Holtby to be back in the net, unless Neuvirth has an amazing game Thursday, on Friday.
Marcus Johansson only played fifty seconds in the third period last night. Marcus was very blunt about his play yesterday.
“I didn’t play good and I didn’t expect to play much more than that. I didn’t play good and the guys that play good is the guys that should play.”
Oates said “we’ll see” on if they’ll have a different first line tomorrow.
Also Oates talked about their conditioning as being a problem and said “I think it’s pretty far” from where he wants it.
The Caps have another big early season tomorrow against the Canadiens and Jason Chimera understands how much these wins mean.
“It should be time for desperation right now. It’s a 48-game season, not an 82-game season, so you got to get going.”
Chimera added, “You got to make hay now…you got to get going. There is no time for rest. You can’t fall behind the eight-ball too much.”
Listen here to what Adam Oates, Karl Alzner, Jason Chimera, Marcus Johansson, Michal Neuvirth & Matt Hendricks had to say following practice today.
Adam Oates Practice Audio
Karl Alzner Practice Audio
Jason Chimera Practice Audio
Marcus Johansson Practice Audio
Michal Neuvirth Practice Audio
Matt Hendricks Practice Audio