Question of balance: Rest? Reps?
Reirden attempting to make proper adjustments heading toward NHL’s All-Star break
Washington Capitals winger Carl Hagelin likes to be on the ice as much as possible at this stage in the NHL season. Often around this midpoint, teams experience a slight lull, but for Hagelin, staying active and continuing his same routine is key.
“I like going,” Hagelin said. “It doesn’t have to be long, but I like being out there. And sometimes it depends on if you have new skates and you want to get out there, but I think for another month or two, I like being out there then it tapers off some.”
The Capitals have started to balance rest and reps, knowing when it’s better to be working in the video room than on the ice.
On a two-game losing streak following a 5-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Capitals had a short 20-minute practice Sunday and an optional morning skate Monday morning ahead of their game against Carolina at Capital One Arena.
On Sunday, the team did a lot of video work. With a charity event Sunday afternoon, coach Todd Reirden elected to give the players an optional Sunday so each could prepare as they saw fit.
“Whether they are on the ice for 40 minutes, 20 minutes, sometimes they are here longer because of the work that goes on behind closed doors, so yesterday we put our attention to that,” Reirden said.
For winger T.J. Oshie, he said at this point of the season, it is tough for players to maintain the balance of wanting to stay fresh and resting their legs, while still wanting to be mentally sharp. Add in the flu bug that swept through the Capitals room, and sometimes, rest is the best thing for a team,.
“For some guys, they need practices to be sharp. For other guys they need rest. So it is a fine line that I think Todd is pretty good at giving guys breaks and rest that need it, so I think that will be important down the stretch here, is being fresh and really just being a pro,” Oshie said. “The year gets really long; we got to keep coming in and getting our bodies ready to go for the postseason.”
Hagelin said figuring out what works for each player varies.
“I have had years when I’ve never had any morning skates and I’ve felt good, and I’ve had years where they’ve had optional and I’ve gone out there anyway and felt good,” Hagelin said. “When you think about it that way, it is kind of mental and you do it one way, and if you feel good that night you keep doing it until you feel bad, I guess. It’s one of those things.”
On game days, Tom Wilson said he prefers to wake up, grab a cup of coffee and skate in the morning and feel the puck a little bit. Wilson will play his 500th career game Monday night against Carolina.
“The league has changed a lot … rest is a weapon now, and it is kind of trending around the league: Guys are getting a little more time off than old-school players did,” Wilson said. “It’s good; you just have to listen to your body.”
Capitals coach Todd Reirden gestures during the third period against the Sharks on Jan. 5 in Washington. The Capitals are trying to find the right balance between rest and work.