Friday was clean-out and meet the press day at MedStar Capitals IcePlex for the Washington Capitals whose season ended earlier in the week. This is never a pleasant time as the players are asked a series of embarrassing questions about the loss and their performance. This year it was no different than any other year except maybe the summer of 2018.
There is always the reveal of random injuries that players have worked through to stay in the game. Jakub Vrana apparently has some injury but would not provide any details. Lars Eller has an “upper body injury” he needs to work through and as a result is not likely to head off to play IIHF Worlds Hockey. Nick Backstrom has something going on but didn’t want to say more. Of course there were two big injuries in the playoffs. Michal Kempny was there on crutches and is in rehab–a slow process he said. He said he was still in a good bit of pain. TJ Oshie said he is working with the doctors for a rapid recovery so that he can get back to working out and preparing for next season.
The general sentiment from the players was that they believed they would go back-to-back and are still reeling from the loss.
The real word came from the captain Alex Ovechkin who said he thought they could have done everything better, including the defensive play that allowed the Hurricanes to score far more goals then the Capitals. Matt Niskanen agreed with Ovi.
Tom Wilson didn’t elaborate on what he thinks they could have done differently other than make better plays earlier in the series by taking and keeping the lead. He said the team definitely wanted it again however, “There were times in this series when we didn’t do what it took to get it done. We know the hockey that needs to be played at this time of the year and we fell short. ”
John Carlson said he didn’t feel any different going into this year’s playoffs and he didn’t believe it was a case of the hangover that many seem to think went on and on or that they didn’t have enough time because last season went so long. Rather he thought the Caps “didn’t execute good enough or at a high enough level to give themselves a chance. ”
The future for many of the Capitals is hanging in the air as they, their managers, and the Capitals determine what is best for all of involved. All of them, maybe with the exception of Brooks Orpik, said they want to return to the team. This could be the year that Orpik hangs up his skates and takes on a new role in hockey.
For now, Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov are headed to help out team Russia, along with half the Russian players in the NHL. The summer will be full of vacations, a new baby for the Orlov’s, rehab and training as the team looks to unify itself and come back to win again in 2020.