The Capitals could have been facing one of the toughest practices after blowing a 4 goal lead to lose to a long time rival in a shoot out. They could be doing skating drills until the cows came home. But the practice was light and surprisingly loose. Tarik El-Bashir’s article in the Washington Post tells the tale, but I had gone to see it for myself.
Having some time on my hands I decided to see how the Caps would respond. They responded with smiles and solid practice. Glen Hanlon lightened the mood, and the Capitals actually looked like they were having fun.
Dainius Zubrus seemed to be challenging Olie Kolzig with extreme angle shots and a few shots outside of the drill. Both were smiling each time they one-upped the other. Brooks Laich was joking with Bryan Muir while Hanlon worked on defensive positioning. Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin slid along the ice after a tough skating and shooting drill, each one joking in Russian. Kris Beech getting called out after shooting on net after being waved off, and having to skate the length of the rink as punishment as Brent Johnson smiled and Hanlon barked (Beech smiled the entire stretch).
It’s something the young players needed, to forget a bad game. The Caps aren’t perfect, no NHL player can be. But the embarrassment of losing that game was punishment enough for Hanlon. The Caps practice may get more serious today, as they prepare for a Southeast showdown with the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday. But for one practice, it was just fun being a hockey player. That even lightened my mood.