It's not often an escape from winter weather involves a trip up to Canada, but that's exactly the situation in which the Capitals find themselves. The team held an early 9 a.m. practice in order to catch a flight to Montreal before the D.C. area is hit with another heavy snowfall.
"It kind of reminds me of Russia, but Americans don't get used to it," said Alex Ovechkin of the snow. "For us, it's okay, for you guys, it's not okay."
Washington will take on Montreal Wednesday night, the first of a three-game road trip that will send the team to Ottawa on Thursday and St. Louis on Saturday before the players head their separate ways at the Olympic break.
And unless you've been inside a bunker lately (or you're one of the folks still without power), the big story for the Capitals is their current 14-game winning streak, a franchise record. If Washington can win its last three games before the break, it would tie the NHL record of 17 straight, set by Pittsburgh during the 1992-93 season.
"It's important, but I think if you're gonna concentrate on it, you're gonna lose," Ovechkin said. "It can be history, but we just want to win and we just want to play."
"We don't talk about it because we're all superstitious," Coach Bruce Boudreau added. "When you get this close, you'd like to see it through. ... It doesn't matter who we play, they all wanna break this thing, they all wanna be the team that says, 'Okay, we beat Washington.' So we have to be ready for every team all the time."
Green late for practice
Defenseman Mike Green came onto the ice at around 9:15 this morning, 15 minutes after practice was scheduled to begin. At the end of the skate, Boudreau had Green do some extra wind sprints as the rest of the team looked on. Green left the team's locker room pretty quickly after practice, so I didn't get a chance to speak with him. But I did talk to Boudreau and asked if there would be any other discipline for his star blueliner, considering this isn't the first time he's been late for practice this season.
"I'm sure there will be," he said, declining to get into specifics. He said Green's tardiness had to do with him not getting the text message that practice would be earlier than usual.
Goalie Semyon Varlamov, who has been out with knee/groin injuries since Dec. 7, practiced fully today after stopping 26 of the 30 shots he faced in a rehab start for Hershey and will be on the road trip this week. In fact, Boudreau said all three goaltenders would be on the trip.
Boudreau said he has a rotation in mind, but would not make it public. I spoke with Michal Neuvirth and Jose Theodore, and neither knew who would be starting in net tomorrow night.
"It's all good when they're all playing great, and I assume they all will," Boudreau said when asked if having three goalies on the roster is a good thing. "Neuvy and Theo have definitely been playing great and Varly is kind of a wait-and-see scenario. ... I'm not saying whether all three are gonna play or what's gonna happen. Varly came out of the game the other day, he felt a little rusty, but he feels real good right now."
Boudreau also addressed recent comparisons of this year's Capitals to the great Edmonton Oiler teams of the 1980s. Tuesday, TSN's Ray Ferraro was the second national analyst in a week to write a story highlighting the similarities between the two teams. He compared Green to Paul Coffey, Nicklas Backstrom to Wayne Gretzky,and Ovechkin to Mark Messier. Boudreau said he was flattered, but that it's not fair to compare the two squads.
"They had so many stars," he said. "We've got stars and big time players, but they were in a league of their own."