The Capitals held a lightly attended optional skate Sunday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, a change in the weekend’s original schedule, when Sunday was supposed to be off. Coach Adam Oates made the decision even before the Capitals blew a pair of two-goal leads in Saturday night’s 5-4 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.
One of the reasons: Monday’s opponent, Anaheim, coached by former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, winners of eight straight, the team with more points than any other in the NHL.
“That was one of the reasons I brought the guys in today, just to remind them,” Oates said. “It’s Christmas time. We’re going to get a lot of time off. I’m sure everybody’s got friends and family in town. It’s a weekend. A football day. Just let’s think about hockey for one more day because we’re playing the hottest team in the league, a really good team. Just keep it on our minds before we go on break for Christmas.”
The participants: Forwards Tom Wilson, Brooks Laich, Aaron Volpatti, Jay Beagle and Michael Latta; defensemen Steve Oleksy and Alexander Urbom, and all three goaltenders — Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Philipp Grubauer.
Laich is eligible to come off injured reserve for Monday’s game. After missing nearly a month with a groin problem, is he ready?
“I feel like I am,” Laich said. “I really do. I’ve skated three days in a row with no problem. … I’m just awaiting word.”
Oates originally said he wanted Laich to participate in a full team practice with contact before he returned. But he said Sunday, after he and the coaching staff participated in a half-rink scrimmage with those Capitals who skated, that it’s possible Laich could dress against his former coach.
“We’ll get an evaluation tomorrow, and see how real is real,” Oates said.
Oates said he would reveal which goaltender will face the Ducks at Monday morning’s pregame skate. He reiterated that the Capitals’ current situation — with three active goalies — is tricky.
“I don’t have the perfect answer for you,” he said.
In other news, the Capitals sent center Casey Wellman back to Hershey of the AHL. Wellman appeared in just one game during his stint in Washington. He was scratched against New Jersey.