ARLINGTON, Va. — Ever since the lights turned on at MedStar Capitals Iceplex Thursday, new Washington Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery has been grinding.
There’s much work to be done in his first season as the team’s new bench boss, tasked with returning the team to the playoffs and beyond. But before that he has to piece together a roster, and with a handful of openings, the preseason is of immense importance.
Even with training camp still in its infancy, Carbery is hoping to see some of his teachings on display Sunday afternoon in the Capitals’ preseason opener.
“There’s gonna be mistakes, we’ve only been at this for three days,” Carbery said. “But the quicker you can show us that you’re able to grasp concepts like that — new neutral zone, new forecheck, no problem. That’s, for me, impressive, from a player perspective, being able to go out there and do that.”
The Capitals’ 63-player training camp roster has been split into three groups since the start of camp, with each working to digest as much of Carbery’s systems as fast as possible. Carbery’s teachings benefit from the 41-year-old’s energetic approach, which has sped up the learning process.
“A lot of times when you’re going through systems it can kind of get slow, it can get a little boring — some guys do it right, some guys don’t,” winger T.J. Oshie said. “This is a lot higher pace. There’s a competition level and that feels like you pick it up a little faster, like you would say in a game by making mistakes. You learn faster from those than going through things really slow.”
The squad’s first taste of game action should have that same effect, and Carbery is hoping that it’s the first step toward maximizing the roster’s potential.
The Capitals are expected to feature a line including Sonny Milano, Hendrix Lapierre and Anthony Mantha based on the lines the team used during Saturday’s training camp. Dylan Strome will be the center on another line, flanked by both Matthew Phillips and Aliaksei Protas — both contending for NHL ice time.
Defensively, Martin Fehervary and top prospect Vincent Iorio were one pair during practice, while Alex Alexeyev and Trevor van Riemsdyk was another.
The team’s game roster also includes a handful of participants from the team’s rookie camp such as Alexander Suzdalev, Ryan Hofer and Bogdan Trineyev — each hoping to make a strong impression, albeit likely with a different end goal in mind.
“What I’m looking for specifically, especially with those young guys: A, show what your skill set is. What do you do well, what is your game if you described your game in three sentences? Show me that.
“And then the second thing is, we want to see — it’s not gonna be perfect, but — we would like to see some of the structure and the things that we’ve talked about over the first three days show up in that game. We’d like to see players that demonstrate that and then we can point that out.”