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Oates found out at 5 a.m. Sunday that the lockout was ending. By 5:30, he was at the team’s practice facility to begin preparing.

Still, Oates’ system and learning it is a major unknown.

“It’s our third coach in a year and a little bit, I guess,” Brouwer said. “It kind of feels like it’s a coaching change midseason because of no time to prepare, no time to even talk to him before this past week. … I think guys are smart in that room; they can hopefully pick up systems pretty quick.”

The Caps hope that Backstrom and defenseman Dmitry Orlov (upper-body injury) can be back pretty quickly, as well. And that someone can make up for the scoring that left with winger Alexander Semin.

Aside from perhaps a trade from the team’s defensive surplus, don’t expect a whole lot of moves.

“I like our team. It’s never perfect and you always want to do more,” McPhee said. “Ownership always smiles when I say, ‘If we had one more guy.’ I’ve been saying that for a long time and I think every GM says it: ‘If I had one more guy.’”

One more guy, in a perfect world for the Caps, would be Backstrom. But even with the urgency to start fast in a 48-game season, no one wants to see Backstrom come back too soon.

“He’s got to make sure that he’s fully healthy and make sure that he’s ready to go because we don’t want him to come back early just because it’s the start of the season and miss more time,” Brouwer said. “We’re anxious to make sure that he’s playing with us, but at the same time we want a fully healthy Nicky Backstrom because he’s a phenomenal player when he is.”