After 30 minutes of drills and a quick team stretch, Capitals coach Barry Trotz ordered his players off the ice at Kettler on Wednesday – all of them at the same time.
Normally, small groups of players remain on the ice after practices to work on faceoffs, passing or shooting. But not on Wednesday.
“Barry told us to get off the ice without touching another puck,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said, “and everybody listened.”
Orpik said he didn’t get the sense Trotz was angry with his players following practice, saying “It was probably as good a practice as we’ve had in a long time.”
Instead, Trotz said he wanted his players to exhibit a show of solidarity after their most lopsided loss of his tenure, a 5-0 setback to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night in which Alex Ovechkin was scratched from the lineup for arriving late to the morning skate.
“If we’re going to have any success it’s going to be together,” Trotz said. “We need each other. We need to rely on each other and we need to play the game as a group better than we have and that was sort of the reason.”
“We have stuff to work on, but I think the message was more important than shooting pucks today. We haven’t been our best. We’re 1-1 and we could be in a worse situation than we are. We just need to know we can play a better team game and play better as a group.”
Trotz said the abrupt end to Wednesday’s practice will be the exception rather than the norm and Orpik said he was fine with that.
“Sometimes (staying on the ice after practice) is actually counterproductive in terms of energy levels or precision and accuracy with what you’re doing. We played (Tuesday) night and we have another one (Thursday against the Blackhawks). Maybe it’s about quality over quantity.”
Ovechkin, who had never missed a game due to disciplinary reasons before Tuesday night, said he expects to see a different Capitals team on Thursday, and not just because he’ll be back in the lineup.
“I think the guys know we didn’t have success because we didn’t have work ethic and we didn’t manage the puck and we didn’t create any chances,” Ovechkin said. “We played a bad game and (Thursday) is going to be a different game.”