This is a regular blog feature that appears once a week with takeaways from the past seven days of the Capitals’ 2011-12 season. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
After six games and two weeks since the Capitals made a coaching switch, here is a freshly incarnated edition of One Timers with observations, questions and things to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Has Alex Ovechkin found the power switch? In the past two games, the star left wing has two points (1 goal, 1 assist) along with 15 combined shots and was a legitimately imposing and dangerous presence on nearly every shift. That’s not something that could be said about many contests this season.
It’s tough to tell if the trend will continue given a small sample size of games Ovechkin has played under Coach Dale Hunter, but the captain admitted last week that as his ice time has increased, so has his confidence. “More ice, more smiles,” he said.
Ovechkin’s end-to-end rush against the Ottawa Senators, the stop that may still have defenseman Erik Karlsson skating the wrong way and ensuing goal was the type of play he made a regular occurrence early in his career. If Ovechkin can make that type of impact on a nightly basis again, the Capitals can only benefit.
When will the Capitals get Mike Green back? When the defenseman came off the ice Thursday, he smashed his stick into the boards. While Green said afterward there was no update he could offer on his recovery from a strained right groin muscle, he did not skate either of the following two days.
Did he suffer a setback? Hunter said no, but there is no firm timetable for his return. The only thing that is certain is it will take some time from when Green gets back on the ice for the defenseman to work his way back into game shape and get back into the lineup. That doesn’t even include the consideration that Green will have to adapt to a new coach and system of play once he is back.
For those keeping score at home, Green has missed 14 games and a month with the groin injury and he’s been out of 20 of the last 21 contests when counting the absences that came with an earlier ankle injury.
A light mood at the rink was a rare sight for a few weeks. But Saturday after back-to-back wins, the Capitals held a light 30-minute practice that included a scrimmage and shootout when the two sides wound up tied at the conclusion of the session. Back and forth, the players took turns shooting until Cody Eakin broke the deadlock with a goal for the “red” team.
The coaching staff signaled it wasn’t a goal, but the players insisted upon a victory and the celebration began. Troy Brouwer ran off the ice and found his squad’s prize – a red puck bucket – and carried it to center ice as his teammates crowded around him as though it were the Stanley Cup. Turns out the groups had made a lunch bet on the scrimmage, but there’s nothing like a little friendly competition and some joking around to help elevate the mood of a dressing room.
“We were just having some fun,” Brouwer said. “We had a little bet for lunch and Chimmer [Jason Chimera] came in here and you can see all the water all over, spraying the water like we won, too.”