The most important moments of the Washington Capitals’s scrimmage Tuesday morning with the ECHL’s Reading Royals had nothing to do with Alex Ovechkin’s collision with linemate Marcus Johansson or the eight goals Washington scored en route to an easy shutout victory.
Instead, it was conversations like the one center Mike Ribeiro had with new linemate Troy Brouwer in the locker room of Kettler Capitals Iceplex immediately afterward. With just a week of training camp and no preseason games, Tuesday represented Washington’s best chance to work the kinks out before Saturday’s opener at Tampa Bay.
“You can see from the first shift to the end, we got better as the game went on from talking to the bench and telling those guys if you try to get open, I’ll try to get it to you on an open spot on the ice,” said Ribeiro, who was acquired in a trade during the 2012 NHL draft in July. “We’re trying to figure it out as a line.”
That, it seemed, was the consensus on a morning Coach Adam Oates deemed productive, even if Washington looked to still be transitioning into his new system. The entire scrimmage, which was played in front of a standing-room-only crowd, was videotaped, and Oates is hopeful his team will learn more about what he wants from them after watching the film.
“It’s different when you watch yourself versus when you watch the Devils from last year,” Oates said. “What I did notice was the pace picked up. … There’s no practice where you could accomplish that.”
Since Reading is Washington’s ECHL affiliate, Oates said his players appeared a bit “leery” about hitting at first and even conceded that he expects Saturday’s opener “to be sloppy” as well.
On Thursday, Oates has two practices planned for the Capitals, one in the morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and another in the evening at Verizon Center, in hopes it will simulate a typical game day.
But Tuesday will be the closest thing Washington gets to an actual game.
“Things like even taking draws, battles down low, even getting bumped and little hits here and there, it’s good just to wake up the body,” said forward Jay Beagle, who led the Capitals with two goals. “This is how we hope we’re gonna be playing now. It’s not shinny anymore.”
If you’re interested in the goal scorers, here they are:
Goals: 1. Beagle; 2. Ovechkin; 3. John Carlson; 4. Matt Hendricks; 5. Beagle; 6. Johansson; 7. Nicklas Backstrom; 8. Wojtek Wolski