Braden Holtby will get his second straight start and Tomas Kundratek will be in the lineup for the Washington Capitals’ home opener Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
It’s not surprising that Holtby is getting the nod for the first game of the season at Verizon Center. Even though he allowed six goals on 34 shots, neither coach Adam Oates nor goaltending coach Dave Prior faulted Holtby for his performance.
Asked about Holtby getting the nod again, Oates said, “That was the plan.”
Kundratek was called up from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League on Monday, and it obviously wasn’t to sit in the press box. He’ll skate with Roman Hamrlik.
The Caps will go with six defensemen, unlike the opener, which means Jeff Schultz is out. Kundratek (13 goals, 13 assists, minus-13 rating with Hershey) brings more of an offensive element than Schultz or John Erskine.
“The game is so fast that you put a guy in the wrong position, sometimes they can’t execute, and you don’t really want to evaluate a guy based on that,” Oates said. “He’s 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.”
Erskine and Eric Fehr are the other healthy scratches.
Right wing Joey Crabb will make his Caps debut against the Jets. Oates said Crabb brings another penalty killer.
“I watched some tape, and high-energy guy we’re looking at to help kill some penalties and balance that fourth line out,” Oates said. “He’s a good hockey player. Other than that, I don’t know him too well, but obviously looking forward to seeing him in the lineup.”
Here are the lines and pairings for Tuesday night:
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Wojtek Wolski - Mike Ribeiro - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Mathieu Perreault - Joey Crabb
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Tom Poti - Mike Green
Roman Hamrlik - Tomas Kundratek