Ovechkin preparing to play in KHL

691390.png

Ovechkin preparing to play in KHL

By Chuck Gormley
CSNbaltimore.com

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin confirmed on Friday that if there is an NHL lockout he will play in the Kontinental Hockey League.

"We'll see what's going to happen," Ovechkin said following an informal practice with teammates at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. "No one wants to be in a lockout but if there is I'm going to play in the KHL. It's not a surprise. I will go."

The NHL's current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire on Sept. 15 and all indications are that the league's owners will lock out the players at 11:59 p.m. if an agreement is not in place.

Representatives from the NHL and NHLPA returned to the bargaining table on Friday in New York.

Ovechkin said he will not be among the 200-plus players expected to be in New York on Tuesday for a players' meeting. He has spent the past week skating with teammates and has reported to informal workouts at 232 pounds, about 9 pounds heavier than he ended last year's playoffs.

Pre-camp notes: Add defenseman John Erskine to the collection of Capitals skating daily at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in preparation for the 2012-13 season.

On Friday Erskine joined a group that included forwards Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Ribeiro, Marcus Johansson, Matt Hendricks, Stan Galiev and Mattias Sjogren, defensemen Mike Green, John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

Because of the limited number of participants, the players have followed full-ice scrimmages with 3-on-3 scrimmages the width of the rink. On Friday the players actually put themselves though a hard skate after the hour-long workout.

Barring a lockout, the Capitals are scheduled to begin rookie camp on Sept. 16, followed by training camp for veterans on Sept. 21.

Erskine, 32, spent most of last season watching games from the press box and is expected to be used as a depth defenseman again this season. Under Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter, he suited up for just 28 games, recording no goals, two assists and 51 penalty minutes.

Erskine is entering the final year of a two-year contract that pays him 1.5 million a season. He may start the season seventh on the clubs defensive depth chart, behind Karl Alzner, Carlson, Green, Roman Hamrlik, Orlov and Schultz, and quite possibly Jack Hillen and Cam Schilling.

An avid NASCAR fan, Erskine and Hendricks will be heading to Richmond this weekend for a chance to see a race.

Quick Links

Wizards vs. Jazz: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Jazz: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards host Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz on Sunday evening as they aim to continue rising the ranks of the NBA's Eastern Conference.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

WASHINGTON WIZARDS vs. UTAH JAZZ

Where: Verizon Center
Tip-off: 5 p.m.
TV: CSN (coverage begins at 4:30 p.m.)
Live stream: CSNmidatlantic.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Bounceback needed

The Wizards came out of the All-Star break on Friday night with their most disappointing performance in nearly two months. They didn't just lose to the lowly 76ers, they lost to the 76ers without their best player, Joel Embiid. Offense wasn't the issue for the Wizards, it was their defense. They allowed Philly to drop 120 points and shoot 49.4 percent from the field.

The Wizards need to come out and play much better on defense if they plan to beat the Utah Jazz, who at 36-22 currently hold the fourth seed in the West. Working in the Wizards' favor is the fact the Jazz are among the worst scoring teams in the league. They rank 28th out of 30 in points per game (100.4). That said, the Wizards have let a few teams this season - the Sixers, Heat, Mavericks and Magic, for example - surprise them on that end of the court.

[RELATED: NBA Power Rankings: Post trade deadline outlook]

Bench scoring needed

The Jazz may have trouble scoring, and because of that probably should have done more at the trade deadline, but they are as good as any team on defense. The Jazz rank first in opponents points per game (95.7) and third in opponents field goal percentage (43.9). They are very good at defending the perimeter and have one of the best shotblockers in basketball down low in Rudy Gobert.

What could help the cause for Washington is some scoring from their bench. They only got 11 points from their second unit in Friday's loss to Philly and that won't cut it against a good team like Utah. Perhaps Bojan Bogdanovic, the Wizards' most notable trade deadline acquisition, can do better in his second game than he did in his debut (two points).

[RELATED: Backup point guard remains trouble spot for Wizards]

Mahinmi's health

The Wizards were without backup big man Ian Mahinmi in the second half of Friday's loss to the Sixers because Mahinmi's back tightened up at halftime. He was limited to just seven minutes in the game, but was able to go through a full practice on Saturday at the Verizon Center. All signs point to Mahinmi playing on Sunday, but we will know more about his status when coach Scott Brooks speaks pregame.

If Mahinmi does play, it will still be something to watch. The Wizards signed him to a four-year, $64 million free agent deal in the offseason and he can't seem to find any luck in the injury department. He has missed 50 of the Wizards' 56 games this season due to knee injuries.

[RELATED: Mahinmi leaves Wizards loss to Sixers with injury]

Quick Links

Morning tip: Figuring out Wizards' new rotations a challenge for Scott Brooks

Morning tip: Figuring out Wizards' new rotations a challenge for Scott Brooks

The mood changed immediately after the Wizards' embarrassing loss at the Philadelphia 76ers, with John Wall leading a lively discussion with the bigs in practice about coverages that were busted time after time.

Today's opponent, the Utah Jazz, are much better and a repeat performance will lead to another one.

"Whether we were in our pick-and-roll coverage, whether we were in our pindown coverage, our switches, everything was always a second late," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of the 120-112 defeat. "When you do that you're always behind. You're always playing catch-up every possession. It wasn't just one guy. It was two or three guys on the same possession which has been rare for us.. Hopefully we can put it behind us."

The Wizards trailed 43-41 in the second quarter with mostly starters on the floor in Philadelphia. By halftime they were down 61-49. The only player in the last eight minutes of the second to make a field goal for the Wizards was Bradley Beal, who had a game-high 40 points. 

When Trey Burke entered, he appeared uncomfortable running the offense. Tomas Satoransky, who has played in combination with him recently, didn't log any minutes. Jason Smith, who was displaced with the arrival of Bojan Bogdanovic and Ian Mahinmi in the lineup, only played four minutes but was a spark early in the fourth when the Wizards mounted a comeback. 

Mahinmi only lasted seven minutes after back spasms, which flared up before the game, kept him on the bench in the second half. Bogdanovic had a full practice with his new team for the first time Saturday.

"We're trying to find some consistency. Getting Ian back, hopefully we can get him back to a stretch of games where he can play and build a chemistry with the group he's out there with," Brooks said. "Now Bojan so we can have him out there with that group. It's consistency and understanding where we can get some points. Trey and Tomas, I got to try to figure out what's the best minute-wise and who plays and the matchups."

Related: Brooks hopes for better version of Kelly Oubre