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A slimmer looking Alex Ovechkin returned to Caps practice on Tuesday

A slimmer looking Alex Ovechkin returned to Caps practice on Tuesday

The Capitals’ captain is back.

Alex Ovechkin returned from his native Moscow on Monday afternoon and made his Kettler Capitals Iceplex debut on Tuesday morning, joining a handful of teammates for an informal practice. 

If it seems like Ovechkin is back in town a few weeks earlier than usual, you’d be correct. I'm told he wanted to allow ample time to get re-acclimated and, just as important, put in some additional work with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish, who oversees the summer skates.

Training camp is set to open in mid-September.

Arriving earlier, though, wasn’t the only thing that was different. Ovechkin also appeared to be slimmer as he went through about 75 minutes of drills, which concluded with timed suicides.

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Ovechkin, who turns 32 next month, was the heaviest player on the Capitals’ roster last season, listed by the team as 6-3, 239-pounds.

The three-time MVP did not speak to reporters following the workout, but Kuznetsov confirmed that Ovechkin is, in fact, a bit lighter.

“You can see he lost some weight,” Kuznetsov said. “Every year you're trying to be better. You change something in the summer. Ovi's like other guys, too—he wants to change something, right?”

In late May, following another second round loss to the Penguins, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan acknowledged that Ovechkin “had a down year” after totaling 33 goals, his lowest total in a non-lockout year since 2010-11. MacLellan also challenged the burly Russian to approach his offseason training differently.

“The game’s getting faster,” MacLellan said at the time. “He’s going to have to train in a different way, a more speed way instead of a power way. He’s gonna have to make adjustments to stay [relevant] in the game.”

MacLellan did not specifically address Ovechkin's weight, but it's common for players to attempt to shed a few pounds as they age in an effort to keep up. 

It’s way early to draw any conclusions, obviously. But it sure appears that Ovechkin may have taken MacLellan’s words to heart.

“It's always good when you see the guys who are 30 or more years, they know they have to practice hard,” Kuznetsov said. “For me, when you get a couple more kilograms, it's a couple practices [to lose it]. But for older guys that takes like five, six days. That's tough. That's why the older guys have to work more and more and more.”

Orlov laughed off a question about Ovechkin’s weight, joking that the reporter should ask Ovi himself. Orlov did, however, acknowledge that Ovechkin worked hard during the offseason.

“He’s going to be good,” Orlov said. “He’s a professional and he worked hard this summer so he can prepare for the season, and I think he’s going to be good.”

On Tuesday, Ovechkin, Orlov and Kuznetsov joined a growing group of Capitals for Nemish’s weekday workouts. Also on the ice were defensive prospects Connor Hobbs, Lucas Johansen and Jonas Siegenthaler, goaltenders Philipp Grubauer and Vitek Vanecek and forwards Nathan Walker and Sam Anas, a local who is a prospect for the Wild. Braden Holtby and John Carlson, meanwhile, have also participated in recent weeks.

MORE CAPITALS: Who is the top left wing in the NHL?

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3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia


3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia

Playing three games in four days takes a toll on even the fittest athletes, and it was their sluggish start that doomed the Capitals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

After being noncomittal about his starting goalie all weekend, Coach Barry Trotz put Philipp Grubauer in net. Grubauer ended up making 29 saves on 34 shots. Offensively, the Caps got goals from Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, and John Carlson. Carlson's third period goal cut the Flyers' lead to two with a little over three minutes to go, but a Jakub Voracek empty-netter a few moments later was the nail in the coffin. 

Here are your three stars from the game: 

1. Travis Boyd had the play of the game for the Capitals. Boyd carried the puck into the Flyer's zone, cut through multiple defenders and fired a slick shot to a streaking Ovechkin, who burried the puck in the back of the net. Check it out: 

Not only was the play nice on its own, but it was Boyd's first NHL point. Not a bad way to get it. 

2. Shayne Gostisbehere​ got the Flyers going with his goal in the first period. The defenseman had one goal on five shots along with being an intimidating force in the defensive zone. After going six weeks without scoring, today's goal was Gostisbehere's second goal in three games. 

3. Wayne Simmonds was the best offensive player on the ice on Sunday, scoring twice - both in the final period. It was the 22nd and 23rd goals of the season for the 29-year-old winger. It was also the first multi-goal game for Simmonds since Opening Night, when he had two against San Jose. 

The Caps hit the ice next on Tuesday, when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Capital One Center. 

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.