Today was a very quiet day at the Caps’ Kettler Capitals Iceplex headquarters. Practice was optional, and only defenseman Steve Eminger exercised his option to practice. Us media folk were given plenty to chew on though, as both general manager George McPhee and head coach Bruce Boudreau held court for lengthy periods and discussed a variety of wide-ranging issues.
I’ll be using some of those quotes in a pre-trade deadline story and in tomorrow’s Game Day Preview for the Carolina game on Saturday, but there’s no sense in letting the rest of those words fall to the cutting room floor. So here’s what was said. First, GMGM.
On Jeff Schultz’s strained knee:
“He seems better than expected today, but it’s hard to say with these things. Try it tomorrow and see how it is. Then go from there.”
On Sami Lepisto’s one game with the Caps:
“He played very well. He’s a smart player and he moved the puck real quick. Quick ups, which is what you want. He gets it and moves it up, gets it and moves it up. He was doing it in motion. He can, while he’s retrieving the [puck], be moving and cradling the puck and then seeing someone and moving it. Those are his strengths and there is certainly room for guys like that in today’s game.”
On whether he believed there was a lot of trade talk at the GM meetings in Naples:
“That’s always hard to measure because unless you’re spying on people, you don’t know who’s talking to who. You can see people talking from time to time, but you don’t know whether they’re having a social talk or they’re talking deal. Sometimes you can tell from the body language that it’s serious. And some guys are doing it because they don’t care what other people think. Some guys are doing it to make sure their competition knows what they’re trying to do. But it’s hard to say how much is going to happen. It’s probably like every other year where really nothing happens and then there are 40 transactions a couple days before the deadline.”
On the recently concluded GM meetings:
“The meetings themselves were really good. I’ve always enjoyed those meetings because you really have comprehensive discussions about hockey issues and there is a lot of responsibility there to do what’s right for the NHL and hockey all over the world, really. A lot of people follow what we do in this league. We usually have about 40 items on the agenda to talk about. We break into small groups of six to eight GMs on the first day with a couple of league people and then we discuss six or eight items and then make recommendations to the larger group and then sometimes there is more discussion based on that. That’s how we do it and it’s enlightening when you have a lot of experienced people in the game talking about the game at this level. It’s a neat experience to be a part of.”
On injured defenseman Brian Pothier:
“He is still having symptoms. There is just no timetable for this. Whenever he walks in and says he is feeling good, you get him going. He could walk in tomorrow and say, ‘I feel good today,’ string a couple more good days together and the next thing you know he is skating and playing in a few of weeks. But I don’t know.”
On injured right wing Chris Clark:
“He seems to be getting better. But until we seem him out there going all out in practice for a few weeks [he will remained sidelined].”
On whether he thinks the goaltending tandem of Olie Kolzig and Brent Johnson could remain in place for next season:
“I’m not looking that far ahead. We’re just trying to win games right now and at the end of the season you evaulate every position like we always do. This isn’t about next year. This is about right now, and we’re doing fine.”
On the logjam of young goaltenders in the system:
“The plan would be to have all the young goalies in Hershey and let them battle it out down there.”
On whether one of the young goalies would have to be loaned out to another organization:
“We’d have to do something, but it’s a nice problem to have, three good young goalies. We’d work something out. Our plan would be to get them all to camp and get them to work.”
On Tomas Fleischmann:
“He is a talented young guy and players develop at different rates. He is a smart player and he’s got good hands. This is his first [full] year in the league and he is doing fine. They can’t all be Ovechkins. You have to have young guys at reasonable deals in your lineup. Everybody has to have it. There aren’t many teams that can have a lineup full of expensive players. You have to play guys like Flash and hope they continue to come along.”
Boudreau’s bits follow.
On whether he would change up the composition of the first line on Saturday because Alex Ovechkin is without a point in three straight games:
“I’m a little stubborn in some ways. I don’t think that Alex’s production [is down] because Tom [Fleischmann] is not playing well. Alex hit the post three times [Wednesday] and missed an open net. Sometimes you don’t want to use the word ‘slump,’ but things have been going so well for him for 57 games that you have a rough spot where things just don’t go in. The reason I know that it will eventually end is because he shoots the puck all the time. When you keep shooting the puck eventually it is going to keep going in. For the time being, at least for the first couple of shifts next game, that line will stay together.
On McPhee’s stance that the Caps don’t need much tinkering with at the trade deadline:
“I think the games that we haven’t had a lot of success in are the games that we haven’t played well. When we play well we’ve beaten the best teams in the league. I don’t think there is a lot of tinkering to be done. I like the group we have. If something changes, something changes and I’ve got to assume it will be for the better. But it’s a good group of guys and it’s a group that is very determined. I think that will go a long ways. And we do have guys in Hershey that we feel are very capable of coming up and playing in any situation. We’ll see how next week [unfolds]. It’s always an interesting time. I’m not counting on anything happening. But if it’s good for this team I’m sure George is going to do it.”
On whether the young Caps you played in the AHL playoffs will be able to play well in their first taste of the NHL playoffs:
“I think they can. Sometimes youthful exuberance takes over. They don’t know what the hell they’re getting into so they just run with it and have fun. It’s the one thing that George always told me every day when we were in the first [Calder Cup] run, ‘Enjoy the ride.’ And we had a young team at that point, too. If we ever get to that situation, we’ll enjoy it. This playoff push is going to make them an awful lot better next year than they were this year, because they’ll know what to expect. It’s all a learning experience.”
On his rooting interest in Thursday night’s game between Southeast rivals Carolina and Atlanta:
“I’m rooting against the three-point [game] and I’m hoping the game is so bad that Colin Campbell says ‘Nobody deserves a point.’ I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
On giving up third-period goals on shots from below the goal line in each of the last three games:
“It’s not a good thing. I hope it’s a fluky thing. Obviously those are the kind of goals you can’t give up.”