The Caps just finished up the morning skate here in balmy Tampa. Alex Ovechkin, Shaone Morrisonn and Brian Pothier will all return to the lineup tonight. Karl Alzner (demoted to Hershey), Matt Bradley (back in DC for birth of his first child) and Milan Jurcina (healthy scratch) will be out of the lineup.
Ovechkin has missed two games with a suspension, but he was one of the first people out of the dressing room and headed toward the ice this morning.
“I was kind of pretty excited,” Ovechkin said. “I didn’t skate yesterday and I didn’t play two games so I missed lots of ice time so I just wanted to warm up and do my thing and get ready to play tonight.”
It was pointed out to Ovechkin that his team has scored 14 goals in the past two games without him.
“Yeah, lots of power-play time,” Ovechkin said. “I was like, ‘Jesus, why always without me on the ice something like this happens.’ But I am pretty happy for different guys like [David Steckel] scored his first goal and it was emotional time for him. He deserves it.”
Morrisonn has been out for eight games because of a concussion. He will play with Tom Poti tonight, so it would seem like Schultz-Green and Erskine-Pothier would be the other two pairings.
“Obivously you want to be playing and it is the kind of injury where you can’t really do much is really frustrating,” Morrisonn said. “I am feeling better, and there are some good trainers in here that helped me along [NOTE: Head trainer Greg Smith was standing about eight feet away from Morrisonn].”
Bradley flew home to the DC area this morning because his wife is about to give birth to their first child. His absence means Tyler Sloan will play another game at forward, and Alexandre Giroux stays with the team.
Alzner heads back to Hershey after five games with the Caps. With Morrisonn healthy, the Caps are back to having eight defensemen on the roster that can’t go through waivers, which at this point makes Alzner the No. 9 guy.
“He did well, but we have nine defensemen,” Bruce Boudreau said. “It is very difficult with nine defensemen who can play in the NHL to sit out three a game. I think it would create more of a problem in the end than be more of a competition. We had to alleviate it somehow and right now Karl is the one.
“He’s going to have a long career — he just sort of has to bide his time a little bit.”
Finally, Nicklas Backstrom has been named the NHL’s first star of the week for the second time in his career. He had four goals and five assists in three games, and is the team’s leading scorer this season (for now) — with eight goals and 33 points.