Other than the news (or lack thereof) about Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin — they’re fine, by the way — the most intriguing elements of Thursday’s practice took place on the power play and penalty kill.
Coach Bruce Boudreau experimented with a bunch of different power-play and penalty-killing combinations, citing future injury issues as the reason.
“We want the ability to be able to use nine or 10 guys because over the course of the season, everybody’s gonna be playing somewhere because of injuries and what have you,” he said. “That’s why when we practice power play and penalty kill, everybody practices it –- because they all have to know it.”
It’s nothing new, but the talent on both power-play units could be a major strength for the Capitals. Ovechkin plays on both units, allowing Boudreau not to single one group out as the go-to-team on the power play.
“I didn’t have a No. 1 unit and a No. 2 unit. When Alex play on both of them, it’s difficult,” Boudreau said. “Whatever unit is playing the best at the time will probably start.”
Boudreau prefers to call them the right-handed and left-handed units. Following that vocabulary, the “left-handed” unit – which features Ovechkin along with Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, Michael Nylander, and Chris Clark (a righty) – has the ability to score like most teams’ top units.
“I think we have two power-play units who can score goals and who can get results. I think it doesn’t matter. Everybody knows we have great skills and we have good chances to score goals because we can create something and put it in the net.”
The team was set to leave on its flight to Atlanta at 2 p.m. today. Faceoff on Friday night is at 7:30.
- Steve Whyno