The Capitals conducted an optional practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Saturday and among those who took the option not to participate was head coach Adam Oates.
"There were only a couple guys [skating]," Oates said, "and I was still watching a little bit of video from yesterday and kind of getting ready for tomorrow's meeting."
With speculation swirling around a team that will miss the playoffs for the first time in seven years, 10 players practiced under the direction of assistant coaches Calle Johansson, Olie Kolzig, Blaine Forsythe and Brett Leonhardt.
After Friday night’s 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said the players, not the coaching staff, deserve the blame for the team’s failed expectations.
“He played this game and he knows what he’s talking about,” Backstrom said. “I think it’s us as players. We’re the ones that play the game and we’re the ones that should be ashamed.”
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Forwards Brooks Laich, Tom Wilson, Mikhail Grabovski, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Hershey Bears callup Peter LeBlanc, defensemen Connor Carrick, Dmitry Orlov, Tyson Strachan and Julien Brouillette and goaltender Braden Holtby also participated.
Oates said after Friday night's game that it is difficult to coach meaningless games. The Caps were eliminated from the playoffs with three games remaining in the regular season.
"We didn't get it done," Oates said. "We were close. We didn't get it done. ... We want to achieve our goals and when you fail, we're first. Our job is to be the constant and set the tone for them when they walk in and be positive. We're also upset."
The Caps [38-30-13] close out their regular season Sunday at 3 p.m. against the Tampa Bay Lightning [45-27-9].
Oates said he wants his players to continue to be professionals as the season draws to a close.
" I would hope the players feel responsibility" he said, "and we do, too."