Before heading to KCI for today’s practice sessions (at 11 and 12:45), I wanted to share a few leftovers from Bruce Boudreau’s post-practice session with reporters yesterday:
*After a relatively uptempo practice, Boudreau put Alex Ovechkin’s group through its paces at the end. Meaning lots of hard skating and little recovery in between. Boudreau said this year’s camp would be tougher, and so far, he’s following through.
“Nobody played more than 20 minutes [Tuesday in Baltimore],” he said.
“So there’s a not lot of work if you take it easy [Wednesday]. Some are going to get the day off Friday. All of a sudden all of that work they’ve done …it’s about keeping up the conditioning and staying strong.”
*Asked if anyone was unusually sore after skating on the soft ice at 1st Mariner Arena, Boudreau confirmed that everyone was okay (at least to the extent that Caps employees discuss players’ health, that is).
“Some of them didn’t get their swimming badges,” he cracked.
*The line that grabbed everyone’s attention yesterday – including Boudreau’s – was Ovechkin’s. The Caps’ captain skated on a revamped top unit with Marcus Johansson at center Troy Brouwer on the right wing.
(Mike Knuble, meantime, was shuffled to the third line with center Ryan Potulny and left wing Brooks Laich.)
“Again, we’re in the early stages, trying to experiment with different units,” Boudreau said when asked why he put Brouwer on the first line.
“Since we’re not playing Brouwer until next week, we want to experiment him with Alex at some point and [get] a really good look.”
“It looked like there might be something there,” he added.
When Ovechkin and Brouwer skate together, it puts two of the NHL’s top-10 hitters from last season on the ice at the same time. Brouwer ranked fifth with 262 hits and Ovechkin was 10th with 241.
When I asked Boudreau the reasoning behind put two huge hitters on the same line, the coach said:
“Well, I mean, it’s to have two big hitters on the same line,” he said. “And not necessarily have Alex going do all the hitting and getting the puck [and having] somebody else to do it.”
Based on what Boudreau said about Brouwer, it also sounds like the plan is that he won’t suit up for a preseason game until at least Monday, when the Caps host the Blue Jackets. If that’s what happens, it means Brouwer won’t make his return to Chicago on tomorrow. It also means the Caps are being caution about his shoulder, which was operated on after the Blackhawks’ season.
Check back for more updates in a bit. Katie just landed and I’ll be at KCI after getting my brand-new laptop fixed. Ugh.