BALLSTON, Va. - Last August, the Washington Capitals entered training camp with shirts with "Stay Angry" emblazoned on the back. After yet another postseason disappointment, the Caps returned to Kettler Capitals Iceplex Saturday for the first day of training camp without any slogans on their shirts, but with the same attitude and focus.
"The regular season hasn't been an issue and I don't anticipate it being an issue this year," Mike Knuble said. "If we get through it and play very well, we'll be a top team in our conference, if not the league. It's waiting for the dessert at the end of the year. It's not going to be about the regular season. We're going to be measured in the spring again. Guys are tired of falling flat."
One of the highlights of the first day was a conditioning test that all three groups participated in after their on-ice sessions. Such a test has not been implemented in years past, but the players feel that being tested can only help.
"It's probably the first time we've done something like that since I've been here, but we've all done it at various points," Knuble said. "It's a good challenge. It's flat-out skating."
"Well, the conditioning's always been important on this team," Brooks Laich said. "This year, it's just recorded, but practices, I'm sure, will be as intense as ever."
As the 2011-12 NHL season is officially underway, the Caps are primed and ready to prove once and for all that they are capable of winning when it counts.
"Every year since I've been here, it's just a little less loose," Knuble said. "I expect this year to be even tighter."