Ovi, Green Speak; Caps Deal, Reassign EakinPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Thursday was an off-day for many of the Capitals. A few of the players whose ice time has been down of late took to the ice at noon for a noon practice with the team’s coaching staff, and that group included Caps captain Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin finished serving his three-game NHL suspension with last night’s 4-2 loss to the Panthers in Florida, a setback that knocked the Caps from the top spot in the Southeast Division and from the top eight in the Eastern Conference standings. After today’s practice, both Ovechkin and Caps defenseman Mike Green held court for the media at Kettler. “I am pretty excited,” says Ovechkin, of returning to the Caps’ lineup on Saturday afternoon in Montreal. “I’m fresh. I feel like I miss hockey a lot, especially the last two games. I was on the road and you wake up at four [o’clock p.m.] and you don’t know what to do. You just have to do something different from what you usually do.” Although he couldn’t play, Ovechkin accompanied his teammates on their recent two-game tour of Florida. He skated at length each morning before the games and watched the contests from the press boxes high above the ice sheets. “It’s 100 percent when you sit upstairs you see a different game and when you play you see a different game,” says Ovechkin. “It’s pretty hard to watch the game when you can’t help your teammates and you can’t help the guys to win the game.” As eager as Ovechkin is to get back into the lineup, the Caps are more eager to have him back. “He’s your top player,” says Caps coach Dale Hunter. “We’re very eager. Our power play hasn’t been as good. They’re shutting us down more. He’s such a force, he gets other people open because of his shot. Definitely we need him back.” Green is in the process of recovering from sports hernia/groin surgery in January. He skated for the third consecutive day on Thursday at Kettler. “Mentally, I feel great,” says Green. “I have the progression of the injury; I at least have an end date where I should be better. That’s comforting. Physically, I’m day three into being on the ice, and today with equipment on. It’s still early. From the point of the surgery, I’m two weeks in and on the right path. “I just have to make sure I’m doing the right things here to get better quick. [The original prognosis was] four-to-six weeks; I’m hoping to be back before then.” In addition to being on the ice, Green is also engaged in a strenuous off-ice workout program as well. “It’s all day, all morning,” says Green. “Even when the guys are on the ice, I go out there before them and then come off. Before [practice], I’m here an hour before them and probably an hour after them.” Green had the surgery on Jan. 17, and the timetable for his return was set at 4-6 weeks from that point. “It’s just how I feel,” says Green, in regards to his eventual return to the lineup. “There is a progression and a timeline of how you should feel. If I can speed that process up, then I will. If I need to take more time, I will. The doctor in St. Louis had mentioned that it’s all about feel.” Eakin Reassigned – After practice ended, Washington reassigned center Cody Eakin to AHL Hershey. Eakin has four goals and eight points and is plus-2 in 29 games with Washington this season. The 20-year-old rookie has averaged 9:19 per night in ice time. Kid Kudos – First-year pro goaltending prospect Philipp Grubauer earned some ECHL accolades today when he was named Reebok Hockey ECHL Rookie of the Month for January. The 20-year-old native of Germany posted a 7-1 record to go along with one shutout, a 1.66 GAA and a .935 save pct. in his nine January assignments. Grubauer was Washington’s fourth-round pick (112th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. On the season to date, Grubauer is tied for second in the league with 17 wins, is third in the ECHL with a 2.14 GAA and is fifth in the circuit with a .922 save pct. Dealing Day – Washington engineered a pair of minor transactions on Thursday. The Caps traded veteran minor league defenseman Danny Richmond to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for second-year pro center Mike Carman. Carman was Colorado’s third-round choice (81st overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. The 23-year-old Carman began his pro career in 2010-11 after four seasons with the University of Minnesota. The Caps also sent forward Matt Ford to Philadelphia in exchange for defenseman Kevin Marshall. Marshall was the Flyers’ second-round pick (41st overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Marshall is in the midst of his third pro season. The 22-year-old Marshall spent 10 games with the parent Flyers earlier this season, averaging 8:45 per night in ice time. He was a minus-1 with eight PIM and six shots on net in those 10 NHL contests.
Since he started his NHL career in 2007-08, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom has piled up 365 points (100 goals, 265 assists) in just 361 games for an average of 1.01 points per game. Over that span, only six NHL pivots have averaged more points per game than Backstrom: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin,