Before the season began, Tomas Fleischmann was in contention for a spot on the Czech Republic’s entry for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but he wasn’t considered a lock for the club.
Then the 2009-10 campaign began, and Fleischmann was forced to sit and watch because of a blood clot in his left leg. Well, Fleischmann has made up for lost time with his scorching start for the Washington Capitals, and national team coach Vladimir Ruzicka and his staff probably are going to have to consider the man known as “Flash” for their roster.
“Everybody wants to play in the Olympics for their country, so it is going to be tough to make it,” Fleischmann said. “If I want to make it, I’ve got to stay the way I am playing, and that might be my chance. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Fleischmann has six goals in seven games since returning to the Caps. His production has been particularly helpful with Alex Ovechkin on the mend from an upper-body strain. When Ovechkin went down, the Caps had to find a way to replace his goal-per-game pace, and Fleischmann has taken care of that almost entirely on his own.
Those six goals in just seven games have Fleischmann among the league leaders in tallies per contest (third behind Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk and Ovechkin). He has also outscored all of his countrymen in the NHL save for two - Colorado’s Milan Hejduk and Ottawa’s Milan Michalek have seven goals each.
Fleischmann was one of 33 forwards on the 60-man preliminary list submitted by the Czech Republic Ice Hockey Association. There are few locks in the group, but guys like Jaromir Jagr, Hejduk and Patrik Elias (who has missed most of this season because of injury) are safe bets. Whether Fleischmann will be on the 23-man roster at the end of December remains to be seen, but he’s certainly stating his case.
“You never know what will happen, but I was trying to work hard and do the right things,” Fleischmann said. “So far, the goals are going, and it is a good feeling. It is a little bit of satisfaction for all of my hard work for two months of skating.”
A big reason for his success was the work he did with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish while waiting to be cleared to play. Coach Bruce Boudreau, long an avid supporter of Fleischmann’s potential, noted the left wing had made significant gains in strength and speed from last season.
A year ago, Fleischmann started well but cooled as the season progressed in part because of a bout with mononucleosis and a leg injury. He still finished with 19 goals, but Boudreau did not waver in his expectation of more.
“I don’t know who the Czech boss is, but I’d be looking if I were them,” Boudreau said. “But that’s just me - I’m sort of a little prejudiced about the guys on my team.”
Notes - Ovechkin took part in a brief practice Thursday that included a lot of skating and little to no contact. Ovechkin has missed four games but appears to be close to returning.
“I’m getting closer, but I still need probably couple more days,” he said. “I’m excited right now to come back to team to play. Still, a couple of days, maybe.” …
David Steckel was not at practice, but he was excused because of the death of his grandmother. Boudreau said Steckel will return sometime Friday but wasn’t sure whether he would play against Minnesota. …
Boyd Gordon said he is ready to return after missing 12 games with a back injury. Gordon has been on the ice for about a week but said his conditioning might not be up to 100 percent. If Gordon does go in the lineup, he will have to come off injured reserve and need a spot on the roster. That could mean an assignment to Hershey of the American Hockey League for rookie Mathieu Perreault, who has three points in four games.