NASHVILLE, Tenn. | Six, count ‘em, six, healthy defensemen. No need for Brooks Laich to play out of position and no need for reinforcements from Hershey – at least for now.
The Caps will be without Mike Green (groin) on Tuesday night as they open a three-game road trip against the Nashville Predators. But they’ll have two big staples back in the lineup.
Roman Hamrlik is good to go after suffering an upper-body injury as a result of a cross-check Saturday. John Erskine said he’s feeling good after missing that game with some soreness. Erskine had offseason left shoulder surgery and missed the first nine games of the season.
“I just needed some time for maintenance and it worked,” Erskine said. “It’s a rough game and sometimes you need some time for maintenance.”
In Monday’s practice, the Caps featured these pairings:
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
John Erskine – Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik – Jeff Schultz
The important thing there is no Laich. He’s expected to center the second line against Nashville, though the defensemen were impressed with his performance on the blue line Saturday night.
“It was really good,” Karl Alzner said. “It’s nice to hear him say he’s got a little bit more of an appreciation for playing defense now. Forwards always chirp the D-men and say we have an easy job, so now that he actually gets to see what it’s like, I think he has a better appreciation.”
But all is OK with the Caps if they don’t have to put Laich on defense.
“We got sixth healthy D tonight and it should be a good one,” Erskine said.