Why Oates chose 'The Wrecker' to be a hero

Why Oates chose 'The Wrecker' to be a hero
September 16, 2013, 11:30 pm
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Caps blow early lead but win in shootout

PHILADELPHIA – News and notes from the Caps’ 4-3 shootout victory over the Flyers Monday night in their second game of the exhibition series:

The Wrecker delivers: Why did Capitals coach Adam Oates choose Joel “The Wrecker” Rechlicz as his fourth shooter in the shootout, a decision that resulted in Rechlicz beating Ray Emery for the only goal of the shootout?

After all, Rechlicz, a 6-foot-4, 221-pound bruiser, entered the game with three goals and 1,123 career penalty minutes as a pro.

“He’s an unsung hero,” Oates said. “All you ever hear is that he’s a great guy. He fights for his teammates all the time. I love that he scored but there aren’t a lot of times you get to thank a guy.

“I asked him if he’s any good at breakaways. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘You’re up.’ He didn’t even bat an eye. It’s like he expected it. And when he scored it was like it was no big deal.”

Rechlicz, 26, said he was “kind of in shock” when Oates called his name. He may be the only player in professional hockey who still uses a wooden stick and he used it perfectly, beating Emery with a backhander.  

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I didn’t think I could pull that off with a wooden stick. I just got lucky.”

Fehr at center: Eric Fehr played his first NHL game at center, playing between Joel Ward and Jason Chimera. He finished the night with two assists in 18:48 of ice time and was 7-for13 on draws

“I definitely had some ups and downs,” Fehr said. “I was better than I thought I’d be in the faceoff circle. But after that, getting organized was a little more difficult for me. That’s something I’ll have to work on.”

Fehr said he’s open to the idea of moving from his natural right wing position, where the Caps have a logjam of players, to center or left wing.

“My initial reaction is that [Oates] helped a lot of players and if this is something I can do I’ll give it a try,” he said. “It’s never a bad thing to add another element to your game and I’ll give it a good shot.”

Oates emphasized that Fehr’s move to the middle is only an experiment. The Caps have Nicklas Backstrom, Mikhail Grabovski, Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle as their top four centermen.

“It’s an experiment,” Oates said. “I don’t want him to even think about it yet. We’ll talk about it as we move along.”

Neuvy watch: Michal Neuvirth stopped all 16 shots he faced in his first preseason action.

Afterward he said he’s hoping to see a higher percentage of games this season than he did last year, when he got into just 13 of the Caps’ 48 games as Braden Holtby’s backup.

“If I play good I’ll get more games than I did last year,” Neuvirth said. “I have to focus on myself to get better each day and stay healthy.”

Loose pucks: Oates said he thought prospect Andre Burakovksy looked “very good” in his NHL preseason debut. Taken 23rd overall in the 2013 draft, Burakovsky failed to record a shot in 14:32 of action on a line with Jeff Taffe and Brandon Segal. “He went and got pucks, he was elusive,” Oates said. “I was impressed tonight.” Oates was less than impressed with the defense pairing of Dmitry Orlov and Tomas Kundratek, each of whom is trying to earn a spot as a sixth defenseman. “I don’t think they had their best game,” Oates said. “There were moments they were OK. They’ve both played better before, but it’s their first game.”

 

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