A Capital Classic: Washington Takes Its Practice Outside

Allen PopelsCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2009

Coming off of a heartbreaking overtime loss in Boston Tuesday night, the Capitals decided to take a break from their daily routine by moving their practice on Thursday outside, to the Chevy Chase Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Washington will play the defending Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings on Saturday.

The main event of the evening was a three-on-three scrimmage where both goalies served as team captains.

The White Team was chosen by captain Jose Theodore and consisted of Mike Green, Tom Poti, Brian Pothier, and Milan Jurcina on defense. While the forwards included Nicklas Backstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Tomas Fleischmann, Michael Nylander, Viktor Kozlov, and Donald Brashear.

The Blue Team was chosen by captain Brent Johnson and consisted of John Erskine, Jeff Schultz, and Shaone Morrisonn on defense. While the forwards included Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Brooks Laich, Boyd Gordon, Chris Clark, Eric Fehr, Dave Steckel, and Matt Bradley.

Yes, that's right, Ovie was out and practicing showing no signs of the shoulder stinger he suffered two nights earlier. "I think it's good for us, put our mind's set in a different way and just have fun," said Ovechkin.  "Play 3-on-3, enjoy our time, and show our skill in an outside rink, so it's cool."

For many other players, it was a chance to reminisce about their childhood days, when most of their hockey was played in the elements.  "When you're a little kid you got to skate on a pond outside the whole time," said center David Steckel. "For me specifically, I grew up playing on outdoor rinks, so it brought back a ton of memories.  Except we didn't have such sophisticated boards and glass, we used the snow banks."

Head coach Bruce Boudreau traded in his suit for zebra stripes, acting as the referee for the matchup. "Now I know why the refs don't like us, those guys are relentless. It was fun until they started yelling at me. I thought they were getting a little too serious, so I had to pull them aside here."

Boudreau went on to add, "I won't say another word to a referee because I know what it's like out there now."

The MVP of the scrimmage was arguably defenseman John Erskine of the Blue Team, who had four goals on the night. "Well, that's why he was the first pick overall (referring to Brent Johnson's decision to select the rugged defenseman with his first pick). The GMs new something about some insider information so that was it," said Boudreau.

Despite Erskine's outstanding performance, the White Team came out victorious with a 12-10 win. But the winners of the night we're not determined by the final score.  Instead, this evening was about everything but the score. 

"They were having fun," said Boudreau.  "We had a real serious practice yesterday, we're going to have a real serious practice tomorrow, then we've got a whole bunch of games. Sometimes in hockey you have to get back to your roots where you have fun and it's not all business.  Tonight was a fun night."


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