Dale Hunter is not Herb Brooks, the legendary coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team who was fond of saying that the “legs feed the wolf.”
On Wednesday, the morning after the Washington Capitals got thumped 5-1 by the Buffalo Sabres, no players who took part in the loss were on the ice. That was a directive from the coaching staff.
“It was a hard game last night; a lot of emotions were involved. Save the legs,” Hunter said. “It’s like playoff hockey where the legs are the most important thing; they carry you around the ice so we just gave them time to rest them.”
The team met for a video session at 10:30 a.m. and then four players skated: Goaltender Tomas Vokoun and forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Jeff Halpern and Joel Ward. None of them played against the Sabres.
“It was coaches, they just told us all when we got in just watch the clips from last night and rest up be ready for tomorrow,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It was a pretty quick meeting.”
In that meeting and video session, the Caps looked at last night’s humiliating defeat.
“I think it’s just reiterating what happens to our team when we make mistakes. The types of mistakes that we make seem to end up in our net a lot,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “When he shows us positive clips of things that we do the right way we went up getting scoring chances and opportunities but when we do it the wrong way, subsequently there’s a good chance it’s going to be in the back of our net. So we have to play within the system and keep on that same track.”
Ward was not certain if he’d be able to play Thursday at the Boston Bruins, after missing the past three games with a foot injury.
“I think I feel pretty good. It gets better and better each day,” the 31-year-old right wing said. I’m just kind of waiting to see if I can maybe get in. we’re just going wait and see. But I feel pretty good overall.”
Ward, even if healthy, might not be in the lineup if the Caps again go with seven defensemen. Hunter was not revealing his lineup plan Wednesday.