- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

After missing the first 50 games of the season as he recovered from neck surgery, Aaron Volpatti will make his debut for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday as their fourth-line left wing against the Los Angeles Kings.

The inclusion of Volpatti, who underwent the procedure during the late summer, is part of coach Barry Trotz’s attempt to shake the Capitals from their recent slump by mixing up the lines.

Trotz also had Marcus Johansson working as the top-line right wing during Wednesday’s morning skate, with left wing Jason Chimera and center Michael Latta, each of whom had been on the fourth line, the apparent scratches.

Volpatti was sent to Hershey on a conditioning loan in mid-December, allowing him to play in three minor-league games as the Capitals evaluated his health. Once he returned, he continued to sit on long-term injured reserve until Washington found a role for him.

“I feel an obligation to a player who has worked very hard for a long time,” Trotz said. “I’ve got to give Aaron Volpatti a chance to show what he can do and see what we have to do before now and the trade deadline for [general manager Brian MacLellan] as well.”

Volpatti, claimed off waivers by the Capitals from the Vancouver Canucks during the 2012-13 season, played in 41 games in Washington last season. He had two goals and racked up 49 penalty minutes while playing nearly exclusively on the fourth line under then-coach Adam Oates.

The Capitals did not have to clear room on the roster for Volpatti after they sent defenseman Cameron Schilling back to Hershey on Sunday.

Volpatti, asked what the biggest challenge would be for his first game in over a month, thinks it will be the overall speed of the game.

“You don’t realize how fast it is when you’re watching from up top for so long,” Volpatti said. “The game looks easy, and then once you get out there, it’s a different game. For me, it’s just gonna be about moving my legs. My conditioning should be pretty good. I’m not really worried about that. But like I said, it’s just more of a timing thing. I might take a couple shifts just to get back in the groove, but yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”

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