Saturday’s practice was “optional,” but only Alex Ovechkin, Mike Ribeiro and Mike Green did not skate. All three played heavy minutes Friday night in the second half of back-to-back games.
Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates and his staff debated how to handle the one non-game day between Thursday and Sunday.
“It’s very tough. It’s really tough,” he said. “We thought about giving the guys all off today because we have a noon game. That’s because there’s so much hockey. … And guys are back-to-back, three in four [days], four in five-and-a half. I mean, it’s crazy.”
It was a bit surprising to see almost every healthy player on the ice.
“It’s so rare that you have something like this and it is a noon game [Sunday], I left it up to them to decide what’s the best way for them to prepare,” Oates said. “First of all, a noon game is weird anyway, right? Whatever they felt is in their best interests. I kind of know what I would have done as a player, but some guys need to go get sweat.”
What would Oates have done as a player?
“I would have taken off,” he said, drawing laughs. “Save it all for tomorrow.”
Expect the lines to be the same Sunday as they were Friday night. Something like this:
Wojtek Wolski - Mike Ribeiro - Alex Ovechkin
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Joey Crabb - Eric Fehr
Karl Alzner - Mike Green
Tom Poti - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Tomas Kundratek
Defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who suffered what the organization has referred to as an “upper-body injury” Dec. 6 during the Hershey Bears’ game at Verizon Center, skated Friday. Bears coach Mark French told Tim Leone of the Patriot-News that he was “progressing” along with a couple of other injured players.
Asked Saturday about Orlov, Oates had nothing.
“No updates,” he said.
Obviously the Caps want Orlov to be healthy and playing, but the 21-year-old would be foolish to rush back. The Caps have eight defensemen on one-way NHL contracts, including the injured Jack Hillen, and called up Tomas Kundratek already this season.
Forward Brooks Laich (groin) skated Saturday, his third day in a row on the ice with Caps teammates. Oates said he was coming along “good.”
There’s still no timetable for Laich to return to game action.
“It’s great to have him out here and obviously he’s skating a little harder and he’s shooting the puck,” Oates said. “We just got to make sure we don’t do something to set him back.”