After getting waxed by the Winnipeg Jets, the Washington Capitals had an optional practice Wednesday morning. Six players chose not to skate, and forward Brooks Laich was not on the ice.
Coach Adam Oates said earlier this week the “plan” was for Laich (groin) to skate with his teammates Wednesday. That didn’t happen, though Oates said Laich continues to exhaust all options.
Defenseman Jack Hillen skated for about 20 minutes. Hillen suffered what appeared to be a left shoulder injury in the season opener at the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps placed Hillen on injured reserve and listed him officially as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
Oates said he was surprised to see Hillen back on the ice so soon. There’s still no time frame for his return to game action.
Six guys on the Caps’ 23-man roster chose not to practice Wednesday: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Wojtek Wolski, Mike Ribeiro, Troy Brouwer and Mike Green. That’s five of the top six players and the defenseman who led the team in ice time (27:35).
Oates explained that he needs to toe a fine line between trying to get his players in shape and keeping them from being fatigued.
Marcus Johansson was on the ice after playing just 50 seconds in the third period. Oates criticized Johansson for not skating.
Both goaltenders, Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, were on the ice. Holtby allowed 10 goals in his first two games.
Neuvirth could get the start Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens. Neuvirth is 4-1-0 with a 1.82 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in his career against Montreal.