The Washington Capitals opened their 2021 training camp Thursday morning at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. Following their first practice the team held their annual media day sessions with the Capitals press.
Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette made his first appearance to the media since the team’s first-round playoff loss to the Boston Bruins. He thought the first day on the ice went well.
“The first 15 minutes was just a warm-up for the guys. The skate test has been in place here. Just an actual really good evaluation of where the players are at, skating, just takes a little bit of time to get it done. Thought everything went the way we wanted it to. The guys seemed really good in the skate test. It was a good first day with regards to that.”
Laviolette said the next two days will be more detailed, and get into his system as the team prepares for their first preseason game on Sunday at Capital One Arena.
“Tomorrow and the next day, the 24th and the 25th, we really get into systems, hard charging and pounding and getting ready for the first exhibition game of the year.”
With the ongoing rehabilitation of Nicklas Backstrom, who is currently listed as “week to week”, the lineup could have an opening, at least in the short term. This could mean an opportunity for Connor McMichael, Aliaksei Protas or Garrett Pilon, to get an extended look. Laviolette says there is opportunity for a number of players.
“It gives an opportunity to a lot of people. I don’t want to say just one name or two names. There’s gonna be a lot of young kids that get opportunities to come in and show what they can do. It’s really wide open. We have some players that play dual positions, you’ll see them at center some nights, at the wing another night. So I think it opens up to everybody”
Laviolette was also asked about the status of Evgeny Kuznetsov and his current relationship with the player. Things seem to be in a good, or better place right now.
“Evgeny and I have had about as honest a conversations as you can have since Ive been here. He’s in a really good spot right now. He looks extremely fit and healthy and ready to play. I think his mind is, based on the conversations that I’ve had with him, his mind is in a really good spot. You know, we’ll be counting on him. He’s really gonna get an opportunity to take hold and show what he can do. He’s proven to be a high-end player, a really impactful player.”
The Capitals first exhibition is this Sunday at 5:00PM at Capital One Arena. The team opens their season 20 days from today on October 13th when they host the New York Rangers at Capital One Arena.
By Jon Sorensen
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