The Capitals, who are currently in the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, held practice today as they’ve won three in a row and hope to keep it going tomorrow when they host the New Jersey Devils who play at the Boston Bruins tonight.
Forward Keith Aucoin had a baby boy last night, Brayden Michael Aucoin, and missed practice today to be with his wife and newborn in Hershey. Mike Knuble filled in for him on the first line during practice today.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to come back tomorrow morning,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said on Aucoin returning to play tomorrow. Hunter added that Aucoin would be available to play if he’s here.
Caps forward lines today: Ovechkin-Johansson-Knuble, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Laich-Brouwer, Beagle-Halpern-Ward. All eight healthy defenseman were on the ice for practice.
Caps Goaltending Coach Dave Prior was at practice today working with Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth. Prior is usually out scouting and rarely at practice. Neuvirth has started all the games on the Caps three game win streak.
“The last three games I’ve been feeling pretty good,” Neuvirth said. “I had a good practice today and am excited about tomorrow.”
Tomorrow’s game will be game two of a five game homestand for the Caps and with their struggles on the road, every home game is even more important.
“It’s huge, where we’ve been playing our best hockey is at home,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said on the importance of the homestand.”
“You’ve seen our record on the road and it’s not very impressive,” Caps forward Troy Brouwer said. “so it’s very important for us to try and get as many wins as we can especially on this homestretch.”
The Caps power play is in a 2 for 32 drought and they’ll need to get that working for their playoff push.
“I think were just not on the same page,” Brouwer said. “We just got to make sure that we know where guys are, we know where our outs are if we get in trouble and we have to stop making high risk plays where were usually turning pucks over.”
Caps defenseman Mike Green has played in six straight games, but has yet to register a point after coming back from abdominal surgery in January. Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter though is encouraged in what’s he’s been seeing.
“He’s been good, he’s been move [-ing] the puck, I think he’s getting better every game,” Hunter said on Green. “I think he’s skating better and better all the time.”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Karl Alzner, Troy Brouwer and Michal Neuvirth had to say following practice today.
Dale Hunter Practice Audio
Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio
Karl Alzner Practice Audio
Troy Brouwer Practice Audio
Michal Neuvirth Practice Audio