ARLINGTON, VA–The Washington Capitals continued training camp Wednesday and with the season starting on Saturday, they worked heavily on special teams.
The Caps first power play unit consisted of Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin up top, while Nicklas Backstrom was on the half boards with Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer rounding out the five. The second power play unit consisted of John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin up top, while Mike Ribeiro was on the half boards with Wojtek Wolski and Joel Ward.
“It’s a great luxury,” Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates said on having both Backstrom and Ribeiro quarterbacking the power play. “Both guys distribute the puck very well and it’s a great problem to have.”
Oates also said, “The Capitals PP has been kind in place for a long time. I’ve always thought it was correct, so we’re not going to change it.”
Caps center Nicklas Backstrom broke down the power play.
“It’s nothing in the zone positioning-wise that’s different. We just have to move the puck and we have to know what we’re doing. The key in a power play is to move the puck quick, get a lot of shots and get a lot of traffic in front of the net we have to make sure that we shoot it at the right time and that we pass it at the right time.”
The big news came when Oates was asked if he would put Alex Ovechkin on the penalty kill and he responded with “absolutely”.
Ovechkin played a total of two minutes and one second on it a year ago and has played 178 minutes and 38 seconds during his career shorthanded. He also has four shorthanded goals.
“Well, you know what, he’s a smart hockey player and a lot of times penalty killers are smart guys,” Oates said. “You need execution. You need clears. You need guys that know what a power play will do. And he’s also a threatening player, so when a team’s power play is on the ice, they know he’s out there. If we can get in their heads a little bit, that’s a great situation to be in.”
Oates added that he has talked with Ovechkin about being on the penalty kill.
One important penalty killer for the Caps is Brooks Laich, who continues to not practice with the team and didn’t skate today.
“We put him through the paces a lot, so he’s just taking it easier today,” Oates said on why Laich didn’t skate.
Oates was asked if Laich has had an MRI or other tests.
“You know, I mean he’s doing all the battery of tests that he’s supposed to be doing.”
Mike Green was back on the ice after missing yesterday with the flu.
18-year-old Tom Wilson is still in camp and his future hasn’t been decided yet.
“George and I are going to talk about it later. He’s done a great job and we haven’t really decided yet.”
If Wilson played five games or less, he won’t count against the first year of his entry-level deal. [UPDATE: Wilson was returned to Plymouth later in the day.]
Oates talked about how the goalie situation will work out today.
“Sometimes that’s a healthy competition. Given the schedule we’re gonna have, I think both guys are gonna play a lot. I think we’re fortunate we have two good young goalies and I think it’ll sort itself out.”
One interesting note, Adam Oates said he met together with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Brooks Laich the other day.
“You know what, I met with them the other day and they are the core of this team. They’ve been together for a long time and a real good nucleus obviously and talented guys. It’s their job to be the pros of this team and let their habits rub off on the other guys. And it’s their team.”
Listen here to what Adam Oates, Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer & Mike Green had to say during practice today.
Adam Oates Practice Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Practice Audio
Troy Brouwer Practice Audio
Mike Green Practice Audio