Peter Laviolette on Upcoming Game Against New Jersey Devils: “We’re Playing A Quick Team Tomorrow, So We’ve Got to Be Ready To Skate”

Screenshot: Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals will finally play in their home barn of Capital One Arena on Thursday after finishing their West Coast swing with a 2-2 record. The team returned to practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday ahead of their tilt against Metropolitan Division rival New Jersey.

Defenseman John Carlson returned to the ice with his teammates on Wednesday morning; the longtime Washington rearguard has been out of the lineup since December after taking a slapshot to the side of the head. “First day’s back with the group, obviously in a blue jersey, but it’s nice to have him out there”, said Head Coach Peter Laviolette in a meeting with the media after practice, “There’s a process that goes with where he’s at and what he’s gone through, and this is the beginning of the process as far as him joining our team. So still off in the distance, but nice to have him out there.”

The Capitals, who have just 17 games left on the slate in the 2022-23 regular season, lost defensemen Nick Jensen and Martin Fehervary to injury on their road trip; Fehervary returned to the ice in a full-contact sweater and is “more of a day-to-day situation” per the Caps’ bench boss. Jensen, meanwhile, is probably further from a return at the moment.

While Laviolette’s team have logged a lot of air miles in recent days, their tilt against the Devils on Thursday will see a high-flying New Jersey squad arrive to the District currently in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

“There’s been a lot of travel days in here between games”, Laviolette said, “Not sure what that does for us…it was good to get home yesterday, it was good to come in fresh, get out here ready to skate, get up and down the ice hard, and just get ready for our game tomorrow.”

“Practice was good. Just to work on pushing some speed and pushing some pace out there. We’re playing a quick team tomorrow, so we’ve got to be ready to skate, get ready to move at that pace.”

Arguably, the Caps’ most prominent acquisition at the trade deadline was 23-year old defenseman Rasmus Sandin from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The young rearguard has impressed thus far in his Capitals’ career.

“Well, again, based on what’s happening, there’s five guys that started the year that aren’t here right now”, Laviolette responded when asked his thoughts on the blueliner’s performance, “So there’s a void that has to be filled…Rasmus fills some of the things that John can do with regard to moving pucks, power play…taking down minutes, contributing offensively. And so opportunities just based on what we’ve been going through, is here for him and he’s done a real nice job.”

In his post-trade deadline press conference, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan emphasized the team would be looking at giving some of their young prospects playing time when the opportunity presented itself. Among those players is 2018 first-round pick, defenseman Alexander Alexeyev.

“It’s an opportunity for a different player”, said Laviolette of Alexeyev’s insertion into the lineup, “But certainly the opportunies have gone up for him as well. It’s good to get these guys in the lineup and see what they can do.”

“I thought L.A. was a good test when you have young players in there like that. You can play against a fast team and I think it’s a great experience, it’s a good time to show what you can do. Tomorrow will be no different against a team like New Jersey. They’re fast, they’re skilled, so they’ll challenge us and we’ll have to be ready for that challenge.”

The Capitals and Devils square off at 7:00 ET tomorrow

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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4 Responses to Peter Laviolette on Upcoming Game Against New Jersey Devils: “We’re Playing A Quick Team Tomorrow, So We’ve Got to Be Ready To Skate”

  1. Anonymous says:

    “we’ve got to be ready to skate” so you play mr. retirement home himself over Iorio. Real genius move there

    • Anonymous says:

      He’s still trying to win games. It’s a tough spot, Lavi needs to win games but Mac probably prefers seeing the kids, regardless of the outcome.

      • MoneyPuck has the Caps odds of making the playoffs at 5.8%. I think the playoff train has come and gone, unfortunately. I think Laviolette might be pushing as either an audition for his next team, or as an effort to keep his job in DC.

        Iorio is eligible for an entry-level slide on his contract, basically giving him an extra year on his entry level contract. I get not wanting to burn that year, but I’d certainly rather give Iorio 9 straight games to keep the ELC slide in place, and then send him down to Hershey for the AHL playoffs.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lavi is a lame duck, me thinks. His hands are tied to a subpar roster, but he needs to win games to save his job. Feel bad for him, but he’s likely gone in 17 games.

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