Ques­tion of bal­ance: Rest? Reps?

Reirden at­tempt­ing to make proper ad­just­ments head­ing to­ward NHL’s All-Star break

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Sa­man­tha Pell

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.”

NICK WASS/AP

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.

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