The Washington Capitals’ 2018 Training Camp continued on Tuesday morning at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, as the team completes its final preparations before chugging a few protein shakes and hopping on an airplane to take on the St. Louis Blues in the fifth game of the preseason.
Capitals head coach Todd Reirden addressed the assembled media after practice, and told us that at this point, we’re getting pretty close to seeing the finished roster.
“I think we saw the product that worked well for us at the end of last year. You’re obviously starting to see four of our D and two of our lines tonight that we want to start the season with. So, we’re getting closer to what we want,” Reirden said.
But that doesn’t mean that young players don’t still have a chance to make a statement.
“It’s still an opportunity. This is an opportunity game for a number of different players, and I think that we could make some adjustments to our roster tomorrow, as well.”
Reirden singled out the two primary competitions remaining to be settled, and there were no suprises: the 4th-line center job (mainly up for grabs between Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd), and the 7th defenseman job.
When it comes to the latter, Reirden pointed to Madison Bowey and Jonas Siegenthaler as the most likely contractors for the job. Bowey (23 years old) and Siegenthaler (21 years old) will be playing as a defensive pair tonight against the Blues in St. Louis, and Coach Todd will be watching.
“I think Madison has just one [preseason] game under his belt thus far, so I think just like all veteran players, look for him to be a little bit sharper tonight with his play with the puck. I think Siegenthaler’s had a good camp. I’ve liked his camp. I’ve liked the improvement that I’ve seen over the last few years in terms of his skating ability, his ability to defend. I just want to see him against a bit of a tougher lineup tonight."
And how can either one find a way to crack the big club?
“I’d say for [Siegenthaler] it’s a combination. It’s realizing what his foundation is, what his habits and details to his game are that allow him to have success at this level. We’ve seen a little bit thus far, and again tonight is a good challenge for him to continue to see how he can find a way to make our team here.
“[For Bowey], I think he’s got to continue to allow the things that are difference makers in his game to show up. He’s a big strong guy that can skate, so he’s got to be very difficult to play against in the defensive zone. And his skating ability up the ice has got to be a factor in terms of adding to the offense when he gets the opportunity, trying to use his shot and his offensive instincts in-zone,” Reirden explained. “Those are things that he has in his toolbox that we need to see more on a regular basis.”
I asked Bowey, who is just the nicest, most polite guy in the world, how someone who isn’t known for being “mean” off the ice flips that switch - even for a preseason game.
Bowey told me, “I think that’s one thing my parents always taught me, was that on the ice you’re a whole different guy. I think you leave it all out there. I mean, it’s the game I love, and when you play with your heart and play with passion, that’s usually the outcome: you’re going to be a feared guy.”
Go get ‘em, Madison.
Updates from Camp
Here’s what else caught our eye on Tuesday at Capitals Training Camp.
Laying It on Thick for Nick
Head coach Todd Reirden was asked about Nicklas Backstrom, who will not be playing tonight in St. Louis. Reirden was effusive in his praise for the Sweet Swede.
“He’s done a tremendous job in terms of building the game of hockey in this area. He’s been through some tough defeats in the past; now I see a guy who’s a little bit more relaxed.”
And Reirden identified what it is about Backstrom’s particular brand of leadership that makes it so effective.
“He’s not a rah-rah guy. He does a phenomenal job of holding his teammates accountable. It’s the way he prepares, it’s the way he practices, it’s the way he goes about things. Every little detail of every drill he does correctly.”
Reirden shook his head wistfully. “I couldn’t be happier to see that guy get rewarded with a Stanley Cup over his head last year because of all he’s put into making this organization better.”
New Jersey for Sale
No, not the state, despite its chronic mismanagement.
The Capitals announced on Monday that they are bringing back their vintage, red third jerseys this season for twelve home games. Hooray! There was much rejoicing in the Caps-o-Sphere.
I visited the store at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, and after speaking to the employees there, I can confirm the following:
- MedStar is currently selling blank third jerseys in all sizes.
- ONLY blank jerseys are available at this time.
- Adidas Authentic jerseys are $180. Fanatics brand jerseys are available, but...that company sucks big time.
- Heat-pressed names cost an extra $70.
- Fully-stitched names cost an extra $90, and take around ten weeks to produce.
So, get ‘em while they’re hot, and you’re rich!
Redirection Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
The Capitals’ coaching staff had the veterans focused on redirections today in practice. After all, pigeons may eat trash, but they eat well.
Nathan Walker hit the ice early to put in a little extra work on his redirection connections in front of goalies Braden Holtby and Pheonix Copley, the latter of which will get the start tonight in St. Louis.
Once practice got going full-speed, the whole team got their chance to try and beat Holtby.
Flow Report - Status: Good
And, as I’m sure you’ll all wondering, Swedish winger Axel Jonsson-Fjallby was back on the ice on Tuesday, and his flow remains glorious.
More To Come!
Japers’ Rink will be reporting LIVE from Capitals training camp all week, so check back in regularly for updates, fun stories, and more, all coming to you direct from MedStar Capitals Iceplex!