The first Capitals player on the ice for the team’s optional morning skate Saturday morning was Alex Ovechkin, who poured an orange bucket of pucks onto the ice and shot all of them towards the goal at the other end in a spirited accuracy competition with Dmitry Orlov.
That’ll be the only competition Ovechkin undertakes Saturday: Capitals Coach Adam Oates said his captain will not play Saturday night against the Panthers.
Oates said Ovechkin was “feeling a little better” today, and the league’s second-leading goal scorer certainly looked uninhibited as he fired puck after puck down the ice and at the net during what amounted to an hour’s worth of on-ice time Saturday. But Ovechkin’s been nursing a shoulder injury since last Monday’s game in Vancouver, and Oates said that he wanted to give him “a couple more days” before he returns to the lineup, which Oates said will likely be Tuesday against the Islanders.
In the meantime, Washington will try to pick up a second straight win without its leading scorer in the team’s first game at the Verizon Center in two weeks. So far, home ice hasn’t proved much of an advantage for the Capitals, who are 3-3 there this season.
“We want to be a team in a building that other teams don’t like coming into knowing it’s going to be a real tough game. The start of our season at home hasn’t been too intimidating coming into our building,” said forward Troy Brouwer, who scored in Friday night’s 7-0 rout of the Flyers. “We want this to be a place where the fans are into it and teams just don’t want to come play in the Verizon Center.”
Speaking of that fight…
After a post-game full of “no-comments,” and “that’s just hockeys,” the Capitals didn’t have much more to say about Friday night’s Broad Street brawl Saturday morning. The embattled Braden Holtby opted not to talk to reporters, saying he didn’t want to talk about his bizarre and potentially injurious altercation with Flyers’ goalie Ray Emery. Oates said he hasn’t had any contact with the league about the incident.
“It’s like anything in hockey: That was last game, you’ve got to put it behind you and focus on tonight’s game. What happened last night is over and done with, and we’re moving on,” said defenseman Steve Olesky, who reportedly knocked out a few of Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier’s teeth in one of several fights in Philadelphia.
Oates said Holtby, who sported a few bruises below his cap line Friday after the game, is fine after Emery’s antics. He did not take part in Saturday’s morning skate.
Holtby or Neuvirth?
Michal Neuvirth fielded shots during Saturday morning’s skate while Holtby did not participate — though that’s not exactly revealing given that just handful of players who opted to take part after a night game, a trip back from Philadelphia, and ahead of a game tonight.
Oates said he’ll make a “game-time decision” on whether to play Holtby or Neuvirth between the pipes behind lines that should mirror those that earned the 7-0 win in Philly.
Projected lines vs. Panthers: