Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby raised a few eyebrows on Wednesday when he questioned the pre-game preparation of his teammates. On Thursday, coach Adam Oates and center Nicklas Backstrom agreed to disagree with Holtby.
For a refresher, Holtby said he thought the Caps were too loose before games.
“You see too much of guys joking around and listening to music and just looking really loose, like it's a practice,” he said. “We're paid to prepare, [not to] have a dance party before the game.”
Backstrom said he doesn’t quite see it that way, even if the Caps have gotten off to a 5-7-0 start.
“That’s his point of view, but I think we’re grown men, all of us, and we should be able to prepare ourselves,” Backstrom said. “Everyone is doing different stuff. That’s up to the individual.”
Oates agreed, saying players have the right t prepare themselves as they see fit.
“I don’t buy that because everybody’s an individual,” Oates said. “As a player, I was a jokester right up to the very last second, through warmups, everything, Some guys show up at 3 o’clock. What’s right? What’s wrong? There is no answer.”
Holtby is one of the most intense players on the Capitals roster. His pre-game routine includes visualization techniques and meditation hours before the game. Jason Chimera is one of the more lively characters in the locker room, occasionally breaking into song.
Oates said he thinks there is no right or wrong way to prepare for a game, as long as it works.
“I could be serious and joke at the same time,” Oates said. “I could laugh and practice at the same time. I could look at fans in the stands. Me and Hullie [Brett Hull] would laugh and joke, but we could snap it in and focus.”
Oates said former Bruins teammate Cam Neeley was the exact opposite.
“He’d score and I’d say, ‘Nice play, man,’ and it was like he didn’t hear me,” Oates said.
“Every single team plays soccer before a game. Ten guys go and play soccer. Is that loose? To me, that’s loose. But every single team does it, so I can’t complain.”
Backstrom seemed more concerned about how the Caps are playing once the game begins than what’s playing in the locker room.
“We can play better,” he said. “I think overall, everything can be a lot better. I think everything starts with passes. We need to take care of the puck and not give it away. That’s what it’s all about. “