When an organization’s rookies take part in their camp in the week ahead of the main club’s training camp, it’s a good way for the coaches to see just what they’ve got going on depth-wise with the team.
Picture what would happen if the rookies got out on the ice and had the big team’s captain out there joining them in drills. That’s what happened Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Virginia today as the Caps rookies were joined by none other than Alex Ovechkin. Getting an appearance from the superstar captain is a stunning surprise and one that Caps coach Bruce Boudreau tells CSNWashington’s Chuck Gormley he was happy to see.
“Alex wanted to get a little bit of a skate in,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “If I’m a young guy and I see a man like that on the ice, it’s a pretty big wow factor.”
Boudreau said he remembers having a similar experience when he was a rookie in Toronto in the mid-1970s and he shared the ice with Darryl Sittler for the first time. It was the same feeling he had when he attended a hockey school with Bobby Orr as a teen-ager.
“I was pretty in awe,” he said.
Ovechkin spent the previous three days in New York and Newark, N.J., promoting the NHL’s 2011-12 season and asked Boudreau if he could get some ice time with the rookies.
“To see him take direction like he did and do what he was supposed to be doing without any airs about him, maybe that had something to do with how hard they worked,” Boudreau said.
That sounds like a guy leading the way as a captain and showing the kids the way it’s supposed to be done.
Ovechkin has gotten grief from all sorts of fans and onlookers about how he doesn’t appear to do the prototypical captain-like things on the ice or even in the locker room. It seems unfair to make those criticisms, yet they persist. Ovechkin showing up today unprovoked and working with the rookies even for just part of the time speaks like a guy that embraces being a leader.
Ovechkin’s role as a captain is one that’s always going to draw attention and as long as the Capitals aren’t advancing past the second round of the playoffs, it’ll bring heat that he’s going to have to take. With the moves the Caps have made this offseason and how they’ve tightened things up defensively, the Caps are built to be a winner and built to go deep in the playoffs.
With high expectations comes a lot of pressure and not just for Ovechkin but Boudreau as well. Seeing Ovechkin doing things like this, however, shows that he’s not just dedicated to making it work in the short term, but also for those that may one day be his teammates in Washington.
Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson have been named finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but the debate about who should win is likely to persist right through to June 22 and the annual NHL Awards.
Not only did Karlsson, last year’s Norris winner, lead all blue liners is points with 82, he led the league in assists with 66 and finished tied with Joe Thornton for fourth in the entire NHL in total points. Those lofty offensive totals could make the Ottawa Senators star the clear favorite to claim the award for a third time in his career.
Karlsson is the first NHL defenseman to score at least 82 in a season since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (85 points) and Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins (82 points) in 1995-96.
Burns — is there an award for most outrageous beard? — is also coming off an impressive regular season, finishing just shy of the 30-goal mark with 27 and 75 points in 82 games for the Sharks. He’s also had a strong showing in the post-season, as well, with eight points in the opening round versus L.A.
Doughty’s offensive numbers don’t match up with the production from Karlsson or Burns, with 51 points in 82 games for the Kings. There were eight defensemen ahead of him in overall point production. But he’s often recognized for logging hefty amounts of ice time, averaging 28:01 in the regular season, on a Kings team that often dominates puck possession at even strength.
“If you’re going to win, I don’t care how good you are, you’re going to have to play the other side of the puck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently said to the Associated Press.
“You’re going to have to make those little plays that aren’t going to show up on the highlights. (Doughty’s) defensive partners — the little things he’ll do just to get his partner time to make a play. He’s three steps ahead of everything, and because he is that, he makes it look easy.”
They were the top teams in the Western Conference during the regular season, with 109 and 107 points, respectively. And now, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues clash with a second-round series in the playoffs. You can catch Game 1 between these Central Division foes on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Some links to check out for tonight’s game:
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Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.
The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.
Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.
Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.
Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.
Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Contractual details, per the Buffalo News: