Good morning from Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The Capitals take the ice for their first practice since a draining triple overtime loss on Wednesday/Thursday as they prepare for Saturday afternoon's pivotal Game 4. Puck drop is at 12:40pm tomorrow at Verizon Center.
All of the Capitals were on the ice today. There were plenty of smiles and they appeared loose, but it was (almost) all business; they're ready to work but are still having fun.
The lines this morning are:
Starting out, the Caps worked on breakout drills, passing but not skating too hard. Next, they worked on moving through the neutral zone and making touch passes with speed, then shooting on goal. With their lack of execution on odd-man rushes in game 3, it was good they worked on 2-on-1 drills next. Most forwards just took the shot, but the drill was highlighted by Jay Beagle setting up Brooks Laich for a deflection and Nicklas Backstrom potting a goal.
The next two drills were a forecheck/ breakout drill and then 3-on-3 drills, during which Backstrom scored with conviction.
Next up was powerplay practice, and Mathieu Perreault was getting in some work on the PK. The first unit was Ovechkin, Backstrom, Johansson, Wideman, and Brouwer (net-front). Backstrom scored on this drill from right in front of the net. The second unit was Aucoin, Green, Carlson, Semin, Laich (net-front), set up on the left wall.
If you see a trend here, it's that Nicklas Backstrom is ready to play. With only 1 goal and 5 points in 10 playoff games, look for Backstrom to have a statement game tomorrow.
On a side note, Caps radio play-by-play man John Walton told me there will be an article about him in tomorrow's Washington Post. Keep your eyes out for that.
Stay tuned later for our pregame story and items to watch.