Capitals (0-1-0, 0 points) vs. Winnipeg Jets (0-1-1, 1 point)
Game » 2
When » Tuesday, Jan. 22
Where » Verizon Center
TV » Comcast SportsNet HD
Radio » WJFK-FM 106.7; WFED-AM 1500
It is the first hockey night in the District since May 9 – Game 6 of a second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the New York Rangers. The bars and restaurants in Chinatown are rejoicing as they build off this weekend’s Inauguration festivities. The players themselves are just as excited to get things started in front of their home fans – but also to put the memory of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay behind them.
There are some lineup changes. AHL Hershey recall Tomas Kundratek steps directly into the lineup on the blueline after being promoted Monday. Kundratek will play next to fell Czech defenseman Roman Hamrlik on the third pairing. Tom Poti, meanwhile, will take his spot next to Mike Green. The healthy scratches are expected to be Jeff Schultz and John Erskine.
Kundratek, 23, made a brief appearance with the club last season (five games) and had 13 goals and 13 assists in 41 games with AHL Hershey this season. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder was named an Eastern Conference All-Star at that spot. He gives Washington another right-handed shot on the blueline with defensemen Jack Hillen (upper-body injury) out week-to-week and on injured reserve.
“Just to help our ‘D’ balance out a little bit and a right shot, I think, helps,” Caps coach Adam Oates said. “I don’t really like playing guys on their off side in the wrong position. It makes it very difficult for them.”
That appears to be a reference to Schultz, a left-handed shot who played on the right side on Saturday, but would apply to Erskine, another lefty shot, as well. Kundratek was a force on the power play at Hershey and Oates said he could spell star winger Alex Ovechkin at his spot on the left half wall Tuesday night on the second power play unit. It doesn’t hurt that he and Hamrlik speak the same language.
“The game is so fast that you put a guy in the wrong position, sometimes they can’t execute,” Oates said. “And you don’t really want to evaluate a guy based on that. [Kundratek] played the position down below, he knows our system and I think just having the right shot will help us escape at times when we’re in trouble.”
Oates went with 11 forwards against the Lightning and eight defensemen. This time he goes back to the usual 12 forwards with Joey Crabb skating on the fourth line’s right wing. Eric Fehr is the lone healthy scratch at forward. Here is the full lineup for tonight:
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