Off-Day Notebook, 4-26-11

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

Who’s Next? – For the third time in as many days, the Washington Capitals woke up Tuesday not knowing when their next game will be or which opponent they’ll be playing against. This is a good thing; it’s a reward for disposing of the New York Rangers in just five games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series between the two clubs. “Usually our lives are pretty scheduled and routine,” says Caps left wing Jason Chimera. “The next day you get ready for the next team. But we put ourselves in a good spot to be here, so let’s enjoy it. For the guys who play their big minutes get some rest and work hard in practice and adjust a few things. It’s a good time to relax a bit, but keep working hard.” For the Capitals, learning the schedule of the next round is much more about the “when” than the “who.” “We played pretty much the way we wanted to play against the Rangers, and in Game 5 we played really good,” says Chimera. “We want to build off that and adjust a few things, just work on a few systems things and ultimately work on passing and shooting. When you play every day it’s tough to work on stuff like that, so it’s good to get back to basics.” “For us, I think it’s good to have a little time off,” says right wing Mike Knuble. “It’s not going to affect our game. I think we were playing so solidly as a group. I think the way we play now, it’s easier to bring that every night. That’s just hard work. It’s a lot easier to bring the hard work instead of relying on skill all the time and getting the right breaks. The way we’re playing right now, you play hard every night and it gets easier when you’re in a playoff frame of mind to duplicate that every night.” “It’s something new for us, especially in the playoffs,” says Caps captain Alex Ovechkin. “All of [our previous] playoffs we’ve had seven games, and we don’t have that kind of rest. We had a couple days off and a hard practice right after a day off right away. Black Aces – The Caps recalled goaltender Braden Holtby from Hershey of the AHL on Tuesday. The addition of Holtby gives the Caps three healthy goaltenders, and makes it easy for the Caps’ starter to take a practice off here and there once the playoffs start back up. “It makes sense,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau of the decision to recall Holtby. “If Hershey is not playing any more, and [Holtby is home] in Western Canada and somebody got hurt in a morning skate, we wouldn’t have anybody to go in.” Holtby won’t be the only Bear coming up to help form the Caps’ playoff “Black Aces” squad. “Every team has done it [since] the dawn of time almost in hockey circles,” says Boudreau. “It might be the fourth round before one of them gets in, but the longer you go, the more chance that one of them is going to play.” The Bears’ season came to an end on Sunday when they were ousted from the playoffs in the first round by the Charlotte Checkers. Hershey beat writer Tim Leone of The Patriot News reported on Tuesday that additional recalls from the Bears will include defenseman Patrick McNeill and forwards Mathieu Perreault, Steve Pinizzotto and Andrew Gordon. Health Updates – Knuble missed the last two games of the Ranger series but was on the ice for Tuesday’s practice. “I’ve been skating every day, just trying to keep my legs up,” says Knuble. “I’m encouraged by the way things are going. You just do your best to stay with the group and keep up with the pace of play so that when you do come back it’s not a huge adjustment.” It’s hard for Knuble to pinpoint his return, especially since the Caps don’t know when their next game is. “It’s day to day,” shrugs Knuble. “That’s a terrible answer, but that’s what I’ve got to say. It’s an awful answer, but I’m doing my best to rehab stuff. You do what you can and try and get ready. But there’s a fine line between coming back and helping and coming back and hurting the team. That’s my main concern.” Defenseman Dennis Wideman has missed nearly a month now with a lower body injury, but he has also been seen skating more frequently since his lengthy hospital stay ended. Wideman was on the ice today as well, but the Caps told him to take a seat after he reported being “light-headed.” “It’s been a bonus for Dennis and I; it’s like a bye week in the NFL,” says Knuble of the extra days off Washington earned with its early ouster of the Rangers. “Dennis has been working hard, so we’ve been working hard together. It’s probably getting a little monotonous for him working by himself, so it’s good to have a partner. It’s good for me, too. We can laugh and commiserate together. Defenseman Mike Green is completely fine after blocking a Matt Gilroy shot with his helmet in the first period of Saturday’s series-clinching Game 5 win over the Blueshirts. Alexander Semin was not on the ice today because he has a “little bit of the flu,” according to Boudreau. The Couch – Just like us civilian fans, many of the Caps are spending their evenings glued to the television and the remote control as they take in the drama and pageantry of the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs. “I click back and forth, sit on the couch, “says Caps forward Brooks Laich. “One, as a fan just watching. Two, whoever is in the lead is probably going to win the game. I try and maybe pick up a few things that they do; who’s playing well and who’s not, watch their special teams and little things like that. “Also, just watch the games as a fan. It’s pretty exciting.” The games are entertaining, but the Caps also have an eye toward learning the identity of their next opponent as they watch. “You’re trying to figure out what’s happening here and the scenarios,” says Knuble. “They’re great hockey games. They’re fun to watch. Tonight’s a huge night in our league, and it’ll be fun to see what happens and it’ll determine our future a little bit.” “I’ll be watching,” says Green, of his playoff hockey watching habits. “I never used to, but once these playoffs start going and the amount of hockey I’ve been watching lately I’m so used to it. I’ll be at home watching tonight. “I watched the game last night with San Jose, and I think it was [midnight] and I wanted to go to bed. But I had to watch it. I guess as a fan you’re a fan of the game. It doesn’t matter who’s on the ice, when hockey is on [television] you’re watching it.” “Just as a fan of hockey, there is great hockey that’s going in. It’s back and forth, there’s lead changes and blown leads, penalties and penalty shots, series that are going seven games, comebacks. Everything I think you could ask for in the first round of the playoffs has happened so far, and it’s going to get better tonight and tomorrow.”

next up:

Caps-Bolts Schedule

January 14, 2013

Washington will open up its second second-round playoff series in the last three years on Friday night at Verizon Center when it hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Series. Since booting the New York Rangers out of the playoffs on Saturday afternoon at


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