With Jay Beagle out of the Capitals lineup after a fight against the Penguins, it might not take a long train of thought to realize why D.J. King is replacing him for Saturday night’s game against the Senators.
Consider that Ottawa features big-time fighters and tough guys Chris Neil and Zenon Konokpa and it’s even easier to make that leap. When asked about what King adds to his team, Bruce Boudreau didn’t mince words.
“Well, he’s protection. If they’ve got a lot of toughness in the lineup, he’s protection for us,” Boudreau said. “Unless you’ve played, it’s hard to understand that if you’re walking down the street with a big brother, you feel more comfortable.”
Neil and Konokpa are first and second in the league in penalty minutes with 25 and 24, respectively, and the Senators have gotten into four fights in four games. Oh, and they lost 7-1 to the Avalanche on Thursday night.
Boudreau’s official word was that King and MathieuPerreault would both take warm-ups and the decision on matchups would be made in correlation with Ottawa’s lineup. But King said he was in the lineup.
It’s King’s season debut, but he feels ready.
“I’m always prepared. I know my role and I’ve always got to stay ready to play,” King said. “When those chances come, I’ve got to [take] advantage of them, so I’m always prepared to play.”
Boudreau was complimentary of King’s exhibition play, too.
“He had a good preseason and he works hard and he’s a great teammate and he deserves to play,” the coach said.
King is likely to skate on a line with Jeff Halpern and Matt Hendricks, and he’ll try to continue to work the puck around the offensive zone efficiently.
“That’s the way you wear down on teams,” King said. “That’s what an energy fourth line has to do – is to get in there, get in on the forecheck, get some bangs and wear down their D and get a forecheck going.”