On Friday evening, Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden spoke to the media on a Zoom call following the third intra-squad scrimmage on the tenth day of training camp. He discussed how the organization will narrow down a 34-man camp roster to only 31 players, goaltender Braden Holtby‘s strong performance today, and getting up to where the team needs to be with less than 48 hours to go before departing for Toronto.
The Capitals’ training camp roster includes 34 players. Reirden was asked how the process is going to be to get down to the 31-player requirement for traveling to Toronto. It’s going to be a decision on “what gives us the best depth, what gives us the best situation for guys that can get extra work…their development is important as well,” according to the head coach. He, general manager Brian MacLellan, and other staff have been discussing that information and plan to submit the 31-man roster today.
On Holtby, Reirden believed he was “one of the guys that were going to come out of this pause and be in a good spot.” The 30-year goaltender has had opportunities to practice with goaltending coach Scott Murray. Reirden made it “very clear” to Holtby that he is going to be the starting goaltender when play resumes. The Capitals coach called his performance today “really solid” as he faced a tough lineup.
Reirden also said Holtby was a “large consideration” for why Friday’s scrimmage even occurred. He explained that Holtby is “very routined” and with the upcoming 4 PM games, Reirden wanted Holtby to be prepared and comfortable for the unusual time slot. The Capitals play their lone exhibition game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, July 29, and their first round-robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, August 3. Both games will be broadcasted on NBCSN nationally and on NBC Sports Washington locally beginning at 4 PM ET.
“I think he’s had a strong showing,” Reirden said about forward prospect and black ace Daniel Sprong. He mentioned Sprong has the experience and brings “unique, different elements to his game”. Reirden complimented the 23-year-old Dutch’s hard work during training camp.
Reirden was asked how he feels about the team being prepared mentally and physically prior to departing to Toronto in two days. He called it a “little bit of relief” when they arrive at the Eastern Conference hub city. The bench boss believes players will feel safer and at ease knowing they are secured in the bubble and will have that mindset to get back to work. He reiterated how health and safety have been the top priorities since the beginning.
Another reason why today’s scrimmage happened was to understand the major differences the guys will have sitting on the bench in between shifts. Towels and water bottles have “to go with you down the bench”. Reirden wanted to stress those little details and make sure the team gets used to it.
Friday’s scrimmage was the total package— warmups, face-offs, power-plays, penalty kills, icings, and even “TV timeouts”. “It was a real growth moment for our team today, and we’ll use that moving forward as a stepping stone, ” Reirden said.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 24, 2020
By Della Young