The leaders of the Southeast Division, the Washington Capitals, are back on the ice today after being off since last Tuesday for the All-Star break. The Caps head to Florida for two big Southeast Division games, first they’ll play the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow then the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Following the Panthers game, the Caps will head back to DC for two days for practice before they head to Montreal to finish the three game road trip with a Saturday matinée.
“These are important points [Southeast Division games],” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I think this is where you can really make a good push for not only the division but to get up there [conference standings].”
Dennis Wideman, the Caps lone All-Star since Alex Ovechkin skipped the event, was the only healthy Capital not to practice today as he was traveling back from Ottawa.
Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) and Mike Green (abdominal surgery) didn’t skate today. Backstrom has skated for only five minutes, with no pads, in the last 24 days and didn’t skate at all during the All-Star break. Backstrom suffered a concussion when Rene Bourque elbowed him in the head and he hasn’t played in a game since. Green is likely to skate sometime this week or next as he recovers from abdominal surgery. The Caps are also still without Alex Ovechkin for two more games due to his three game suspension. Dale Hunter said Ovechkin will be traveling with the team to Florida.
There were two roster moves today, the Caps recalled forward Cody Eakin from Hershey. Eakin was sent down to get some more games in during the All-Star break. The Caps also signed forward Joel Rechlicz to a one year deal and recalled him from Hershey. Rechlicz has one goal, one assist in 27 games and also leads the AHL with 184 penalty minutes. Hunter said Joel Rechlicz is a “game-time” decision for tomorrow. If he plays, Joel Ward is likely the odd man out.
“It’s great to be here,” Rechlicz said. “Very happy for the opportunity and just here to make the most of it.”
Rechlicz still uses a wooden hockey stick, one of the very few to do so. He says he’s been using it since he was 20 and said, “I love using them.”
Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said Rechlicz brings more “team toughness” to the Caps.
Rechlicz will be wearing #54. Rechlicz, who is 24, has played in 23 NHL games for the New York Islanders, 17 games during the 2008-09 season and six games during the 2009-10 season. He has one career assist, no goals and 95 penalty minutes.
The Caps forward lines today looked like: Ovechkin-Johansson-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Halpern-Knuble, Beagle-Eakin-Ward-Rechlicz.
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, Karl Alzner and Joel Rechlicz had to say following practice today and before their flight to Florida this afternoon.
Dale Hunter Practice Audio
Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio
Brooks Laich Practice Audio
Karl Alzner Practice Audio
Joel Rechlicz Practice Audio