The Washington Capitals returned to practice at noon on Friday following their 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday afternoon. The Capitals face the Boston Bruins in their third and final round robin game on Sunday.
Nicklas Backstrom did not practice on Friday. Reirden said the team will see how Backstrom is tomorrow, then assess the situation moving forward. “I can’t say much about Nick’s situation. We’ll see how he is tomorrow and then as we get closer to Sunday.”
Reirden on Backstrom missing practice on Friday:
“I can’t say much about Nick’s situation. We’ll see how he is tomorrow and then as we get closer to Sunday.” Backstrom led all #Caps’ forwards in ice time on Thursday evening (21:42).
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) August 7, 2020
Braden Holtby will start the final round robin game against the Bruins on Sunday. Reirden said “I think that this best prepares him for Round 1, Game 1, is getting more in-game action after discussion with him and how he’s been feeling and continue to have him building his game for the playoffs.”
Holtby also met with the media on Friday.
Carl Hagelin met with the media following Friday’s practice. “I think as a team we took a step backwards … we all know we need to step up.” Hagelin added he thinks Sunday’s tilt against Boston will be a “huge game for us.
Capitals forward Jakub Vrana also met with the media on Friday. “We can’t say we’re happy with how we play right now… we’re going to try to clean those areas and things we didn’t do well up.”
Eller remains in D.C. with his family, per Reirden. “For us, family is first. I’ll have more of an update for you as soon as he arrives here and when we’re able to get him into a game.”
The Capitals released a mashup video montage of the players existing inside the bubble.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) August 7, 2020
Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis appeared on CNN Newsroom on Friday to discuss the return of hockey.
“We took players’ and staff’s safety as paramount … They would be tested. They would follow protocol. And they would have an opportunity then just to focus on their craft.”
Ted Leonsis explains how his multiple professional sports teams returned to play without Covid-19 cases pic.twitter.com/AVnI8EORIg
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 7, 2020
Through their first two Round Robin games, the Capitals went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill to join Pittsburgh, Toronto and Philadelphia as the only teams to remain perfect on the penalty kill. Over the last two postseasons, the Capitals’ 90.3 penalty kill percentage (28 for 31) ranks third among teams with at least five playoff games played.
During the 2019-20 season, the Capitals penalty kill ranked sixth in the NHL at 82.6 percent. That marked a 3.7 percent improvement from the 2018-19 season (78.9 percent), which ranked 24th in the NHL. The Capitals allowed 42.22 shots per 60 minutes of penalty kill time in 2019-20, the second lowest rate in the NHL. Jonas Siegenthaler (203:46), Radko Gudas (172:16) and Carl Hagelin (169:30) led the Capitals in penalty kill ice time. Additionally, Nick Jensen’s 2.98 power play goals against per 60 minutes of penalty kill time ranked first in the NHL among players with at least 120 minutes. (More here.)
The Washington Capitals announced on Friday that they have loaned forward prospect Aliaksei Protas to Dinamo Minsk of the KHL. It was reported that Protas met with Dinamo Minsk back in mid July and was extended an offer, but initially declined the offer. (More here.)
The Capitals donned Washington Nationals floppy hats at their workouts on Friday.
Round Robin Standings
The Capitals will face either the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes or the New York Islanders in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, depending on results of the qualifying round. We have broken down the probabilities for you right here.
The Capitals will practice again on Saturday before facing the Bruins on Sunday. Game time has yet to be announced.
By Jon Sorensen