Oates hopes Olympics 're-energize' his players

Oates hopes Olympics 're-energize' his players
February 17, 2014, 2:30 pm
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Capitals coach Adam Oates is a lot like every other NHL coach watching these Olympics.

He wants his players to do well. He doesn’t want to see them get hurt and he wants to give them as much rest as possible when they return from Sochi, Russia.

Through the first three games of the men’s tournament, none of the Capitals’ five Olympians has logged more ice time and is under greater scrutiny than 28-year-old captain Alex Ovechkin.

In Russia’s opening 5-2 win over Slovenia. Ovechkin scored on his first shot of the tournament and picked up an assist in a 5-2 win over Slovenia. He recorded four shots and logged 17:24 of ice time in the victory.

[RELATED:Ovechkin, Russia scrape by Slovakia]

In Saturday’s 3-2 overtime thriller against the Americans, Ovechkin led all players with seven shots but failed to record a point in 19:55 of ice time.

And in Sunday’s 1-0 shootout win over Slovakia, Ovechkin again was held in check with no points on six shots in 24:27 of work.

Before sending his players off to Russia, Oates was asked if he was concerned about fatigue becoming a factor for his top players in the final seven weeks of the Capitals’ season.

“Yeah,” he said. “Hopefully, we put ourselves in position where we don’t have to wear them out when we get back.”

By that, Oates means he’d like to see the Capitals grab some early leads and shave some of the minutes off Ovechkin, John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom.

Oates said he’s also hoping his Olympians return from Sochi playing on a higher level than their NHL counterparts because of the intensity level of the Olympics.

“It could re-energize them, you never know,” Oates said. “Maybe they play with some different guys and it re-energizes them.”

The Caps are scheduled to gather at Kettler on Wednesday at 2 p.m. and conduct a mini training camp before returning to game action Feb. 27 in Florida.