Coming off a physical 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday and facing back-to-back games against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers Friday and Saturday, Capitals coach Barry Trotz cancelled practice on Thursday, instead directing players through a video session.
Trotz said he thought the Verizon Center was “really warm” Wednesday night and several players lost a lot of body weight in the loss to the Penguins. The team measures each player’s body weight after every game.
Defenseman Karl Alzner said it was a good move by the head coach.
“Last night was our toughest physical game we played so far and I think guys were feeling it a little today,” Alzner said, referring to the combined 61 hits between the Pens and Caps. “It came at a good time.”
“Sometimes,” Trotz said, “rest is a weapon.”
Left wing Jason Chimera said Thursday’s video session emphasized some of the details that led to scoring chances on both sides. Several players said too many neutral zone giveaways led to offensive chances by the Penguins, who were outshot by the Caps 34-25.
“It wasn’t like a rip-your-butt session,” Chimera said. “We did some good things, we did some bad things and like every game you learn to correct some things and try to do what you did good, better. We didn’t play too bad last night. It’s just like playoffs, you’ve got to move on from it right away and don’t let your mistakes compound.”
With the Caps sitting in third place in the Metro Division with a 6-2-0 record, Trotz said he will make a few lineup changes for Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets, who have won two of their three games since replacing head coach Todd Richards with former Lightning, Rangers and Canucks coach John Tortorella.
“I would probably say yes, absolutely,” Trotz said. “Maybe Latts (Michael Latta) or Gally (right wing Stan Galiev) because they haven’t been in, and Schmitty (defenseman Nate Schmidt). I’d say there will be a couple changes.”
Schmidt, a left-handed shooter, has been learning to play the right side at practice, while Dmitry Orlov is growing accustomed to playing the left side after starting the season on the right. If that holds true, the Caps likely would replace Taylor Chorney with Schmidt.
As for the fourth line, which was on the ice for Phil Kessel’s game-winning goal Wednesday night, rookie center Chandler Stephenson could sit out his first game after playing his first six in a row. Stephenson, 21, has averaged 8:01 in ice time and is a minus-3 in those games.
“Being on a fourth line is sometimes tough for a young player,” Trotz said, “because most young players that get called up are playing 20 minutes a night in Hershey and then all of a sudden they’re playing eight and that’s a hard role.
“That’s why a lot of teams have three veteran players on that fourth line, because they know how to deal with that.”
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