It’s been a blitz out of the gate all across the NHL, as the lockout-delayed Training Camp began Monday for teams, and the opening puck drop coming for the Capitals just five days later when play the Lightning in Tampa Bay.
Karl Alzner called into the Junks Wednesday to let them know how rigorous preparation has been for the shortened 48-game season, with just five days to prepare and learn a new offense under rookie head coach Adam Oates.
When asked if their legs were prepared for seven games in just the first twelve days of the season, under normal circumstances, the answer he gave would be terrifying to Caps fans, but considering the entire league is in a scramble, it’s just the status quo.
“I guess we’ll find out,” Alzner said. “I’ve been training quite a bit for this kind of situation. I hope they’re ready. All you can do is wait and see and take care of the body. Making sure that, on our days off, we’re smart about it and know what we’re doing to recover.”
With no time to rest, and even less time to prepare, the Capitals have to overcome a lot, including adjusting to the coaching style of Adam Oates.
“Adam said at the beginning of Training Camp, ‘We don’t have enough time to go out on the ice and bag you guys and let you recover and be recovered by the start of the season, so anything you need to do to get in shape is all on your own. You have to do it away from the rink or do it after practice, and during practice we’re going to focus on our system and team plays.’”
Although Alzner said the intensity is up because of the sense of urgency to get ready, he acknowledged the environment definitely isn’t as tense as it was under Dale Hunter, which may not be his fault.
“I think when Dale came in, everybody was tense already just because we weren’t playing very good,” Alzner said. “Dale was pretty relaxed himself when he was off the ice. I think maybe that came across as more intense than he was. With Adam here, it’s business. It definitely seems like a more relaxed atmosphere, but at the same time, guys know what’s at stake right now”
Alzner and the Capitals are excited for the idea of opening against a divisional rival in the Tampa Bay Lightning, which has helped keep them focused in practice.
“They always play us hard. It’s always difficult, but it’s extremely fun to play them because it’s so intense, especially when guys have to shut down the big boys.”