The Washington Times - February 19, 2013, 08:30PM

This was a change. Rather than a light workout because it’s not a game day, the Washington Capitals on Tuesday got to spend time on conditioning and more because of an extended break in the schedule.

“It was the first real chance to get a good skate, some conditioning, some drills, some battles,” coach Adam Oates said. “Just a real practice day where we know we don’t have a game tomorrow, so the guys can mentally kind of get into it.”


Players worked for about an hour and did some heavy skating. Right wing Troy Brouwer said it was good to get a little sweat going.

“We need it,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “It’s good to get out there and have a hard-working practice. We feel good about ourselves after it. We went through a lot of video today, X’ing and O’ing. Just keep working on our game, trying to get better.”

After the winning streak snapped at three with Sunday night’s loss at the New York Rangers, the Caps got a welcome day off Monday. As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, teams are required to have four off days a month, and this was a scheduled one of those.

The Caps are one of five NHL teams with at least a three-day break this week. Ex-coach Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks have five days between games.

It’s an odd quirk of the schedule, but when Caps players showed up at the rink Tuesday, they had an idea what to expect.

“We knew we were going to go through the paces,” right wing Joel Ward said. “We had a day off, couple days off so we knew it would be a good day at work. There was nothing wrong with it. It was a good practice, hard-working practice, for sure.”

As far as tactical work, the Caps are trying to tighten up their systems.

“Make sure that we’re crisp in practice and we’re working on our details in practice, because those carry over,” Brouwer said. “We’re having some times where we’re getting ourselves into trouble, waiting too long and not getting a good pass, and we turn it over that way. We’ve got to make sure that a lot of those little drills that you normally take for granted; we’ve got to make sure we’re crisp on our passes and execution.”

Included with video and on-ice drills was a lot of skating. Move the nets in and work on some conditioning.

“Yeah I loved that,” center Jay Beagle said. “It was a great practice. It was something that I love to do, a little bag skate.”