The Washington Capitals have played this season with a target on their backs as the reigning President's Trophy winner. Tonight's opponent, the Vancouver Canucks, come into Verizon Center with the league's best record, and a 17-game point streak broken last night by the New York Rangers.
I canvassed the locker room this morning, asking how the Caps feel playing the role of underdog against a very hot, very talented Vancouver team.
"They're the best team in the league," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's a great test for us. Hopefully we can meet the test. Last year when we went to Vancouver it was turned around and they ended up winning 3-2 in a great hockey game and I assume it's gonna be a great hockey game tonight with both teams playing as hard as they can."
Eric Fehr, do you think playing the role of underdog might help loosen this Caps team up? "Yeah, I think that'll be good for us. We get an opportunity to play one of the top teams in the league at home. You know, they played last night and I think its going to be important for us to try to jump on them."
"It's a little strange, we definitely aren't used to [playing underdog]," said Karl Alzner. "It's nice to be on the opposite side now and get that feeling sometimes, maybe over the last few months here teams get pretty geared up to play us."
Nick Backstrom, on being ready for the league's top team: "Yeah, I think so. Sometimes that's good. We feel like we're ready for this challenge and they're a great team, so we have to be at the top of our game to get two points."
Boudreau addressed F Matt Bradley's injury status after practice, saying he thought there was a chance that the gritty winger could play at the end of next week, but more than likely he was still 10 days to to weeks from seeing game action. Bradley practiced during the scratches skate this morning with D.J. King.
D Tyler Sloan was sent on a conditioning assignment to AHL Hershey. The team has 14 days to recall Sloan or send him through waivers to assign him outright to the minors.
Washington Capitals Vice President of Communications Nate Ewell announced his resignation from the team this morning, effective Feb. 9. Ewell has accepted the position of Director of Communications with College Hockey, Inc., in Newton MA.
Ewell has been instrumental in transforming the Capitals into one of the most technologically savvy organizations in all of sports. His media relations department is a multiple award winner in hockey, and is renown for their professionalism and innovation.
He, along with Ted Leonsis, has revolutionized how the Capitals are covered on an independent level, and their influence has been felt throughout hockey. Working with bloggers and independent journalists in the Washington, DC market, they have established a credentialing process for independents and an atmosphere of openness in the press box.
The organization gets it, and Nate's been the one implementing it. Caps News Network wishes nothing but the best for Nate in his future endevours, and good luck to his replacement. Whoever takes the position has big shoes to fill, indeed.