The Caps held a full practice today as they prepare for a four game road trip starting against the Florida Panthers on Friday, the team they’re four points back for tops in the Southeast Division. The Caps are also one point out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and are only 3-4-3 in their last ten games.
Olie Kolzig, the Caps Associate Goaltending Coach and former Caps star goalie for parts of 15 seasons, was at practice today working with the goalies and talked about Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin, who he played with for three seasons, and his struggles the last few seasons.
“For Alex it’s a work ethic, he just has to get back to being the way he was in his younger days,” Kolzig said on Ovechkin. “And maybe not get wrapped up too much in the rock star status that comes in being Alex Ovechkin.”
Kolzig also added on Ovechkin, “Part of it he’s probably feeling a little, not as loved as he used to be, he brings that on himself sometimes.”
Kolzig also talked about Caps goalie prospect Philipp Grubauer and how high he is on him. Grubauer plays for the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays and said if it wasn’t for the amount of goalies in the system, Grubauer should be in the harder AHL right now and not the ECHL.
Kolzig addressed the fact that the Caps don’t have a goaltending coach around the team often and how it affects a young goalie like Michal Neuvirth.
“Goalies have to go through some adversity on their own, you can’t have the goalie coach be in there the whole time as a crutch,” Kolzig said.
Kolzig said while he is here he’ll talk to Michal Neuvirth and what he has been going through.
Mike Green participated in his first full practice since January 17th and says they’ll wait until tomorrow to make a decision on if he’ll travel with the team on the upcoming four game road trip.
“Good, good, I got to get my lungs back, but overall I felt good,” Green said on he felt today. “Another day that’s in the right direction.”
Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter was also happy with what he saw today.
“He’s skating well,” Hunter said on Green. “We worked him on the power play and he moved well up top, he looks good, we have to wait and see tomorrow.”
The dark cloud that continues to hang over the team is the benching of Mike Knuble the last three games and the question if he’ll get traded before the February 27th trade deadline.
Knuble said today that he hasn’t talked with George McPhee or Dale Hunter about anything and that, ” I just want it to end.”
“He looked good,” Hunter said on Knuble’s practice today. “He skated well and he’s chomping at the bit to go, again we’ll wait to see what happens.”
Brooks Laich talked following practice today about the upcoming road trip.
“Would we like to be in a better position? Yeah, but the reality is we aren’t so we have some work to do,” Laich said. “You can say what you want this season, there’s still a lot of hockey left and our team still has a lot to prove.”
The Caps forward lines today looked like: Ovechkin-Johansson-Brouwer, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Laich-Knuble, Beagle-Halpern-Ward.
All eight defenseman and both goalies also took part in practice today.
Hunter said that they haven’t talked yet about bringing an extra forward up for the road trip since they only have twelve forwards currently on the roster.
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Olie Kolzig, Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich & Michal Neuvirth had to say following practice today.
Dale Hunter Practice Audio
Olie Kolzig Practice Audio
Mike Green Practice Audio
Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio
Mike Knuble Practice Audio
Brooks Laich Practice Audio
Michal Neuvirth Practice Audio