On the penultimate day of their season, the Capitals held an optional skate Saturday that the majority of the roster and Coach Adam Oates chose not to take part in.
“There were only a couple guys [skating], and I was still watching a little bit of video from yesterday,” Oates said. “Kind of getting ready for tomorrow for the meeting.”
Ten players – Mikhail Grabovski, Braden Holtby, Brooks Laich, Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Connor Carrick, Julien Brouillette, Tyson Strachan and Peter LeBlanc – took to the ice for one final practice with the team’s assistant coaches.
If the sparsely-attended on-ice session and 70-degree temperatures outside the team’s practice facility weren’t enough to reinforce the fact that summer is coming quickly for the Capitals, the sight of the team’s equipment staff packing up extra gear in the dressing room sure did.
While Washington has one game left, 3 p.m. Sunday against the Lightning, all involved admit it is difficult to maintain focus on that contest as players and coaches grow introspective about the season.
“We didn’t get it done. We were close. We didn’t get it done,” Oates said Friday night after the Capitals’ 4-0 win against Chicago. “We want to achieve our goals and when you fail, we’re first. Our job is to be the constant and set the tone for them when they walk in and be positive. We’re also upset.”
>> Braden Holtby is expected to start Sunday in the season finale.
>> The Capitals signed 2012 third-round draft pick center Chandler Stephenson to a three-year, entry-level contract. Stephenson, 19, played the last four seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats. He will join AHL Hershey on a tryout agreement for the remainder of this season as his contract goes into effect next year.
>> With Marcus Johansson out with what is believed to be an injured left hand after being hit by a shot in the second period Friday night, the Capitals recalled AHL center Peter LeBlanc from Hershey. LeBlanc, 26, will be the ninth player to make their regular-season NHL debut with the Capitals this year when he suits up Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.