It’s that time again. After five months, good things will hopefully come to those who wait. The Capitals’ rush towards redemption starts tonight in their first preseason game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Every game day from now on, come here for previews, analysis and an overall outlook of that night’s (or late afternoon’s) game. The Capital Eyes are on Columbus tonight.
Washington Capitals v. Columbus Blue Jackets
7:00 PM EST – Nationwide Arena – Columbus, Ohio
TV/Radio: Capitals Radio w/ Steve Kolbe & Mike Vogel
Possible lines for Washington:
Brooks Laich – Tomas Fleischmann – Alex Semin
Jason Chimera – Mathieu Perreault – Eric Fehr
Matt Hendricks – David Steckel – Andrew Gordon
Kyle Greentree – Cody Eakin/Marcus Johansson – Joel Rechlicz
John Erskine; Karl Alzner; John Carlson; Brian Fahey; Jeff Schultz; Sean Collins; Tyler Sloan
Outlook: The Capitals’ first line of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble is sitting this one out, so the second and third lines each move up one, respectively. Laich, Fleischmann and Semin became a familiar second line for the Capitals last season, while Chimera, Perreault and Fehr have transformed into a solid third line that combines speed and grit. Chimera, Perreault and Fehr spent a lot of time playing together during training camp and coaches said that those three outplayed most of the other lines. Tonight’s top two lines could easily be the starting second and third lines when the Capitals open regular season play in two weeks.
Tonight’s third and fourth lines will feature many of the Capitals’ top prospects, including Marcus Johansson and Rookie Game hero Cody Eakin,
Mike Green and newly re-signed Tom Poti will also not be playing tonight, so Carlson and Alzner could be tonight’s top pairing. Schultz will be the defensive leader tonight. The Capitals’ sixth and seventh defensemen, Erksine and Sloan, will set out to prove that they deserve more playing time during the regular season.
Varlamov should start in goal, but Holtby will probably play at least one full period. Neuvirth, fresh off of a contract extension of his own, could start the Capitals’ next preseason game this Saturday in Nashville.
Columbus has more key players playing in tonight’s game, including star Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger and Fedor Tyutin. The Blue Jackets’ lineup will also feature three former Capitals: former Hershey Bears goaltender Daren Machesney, 2007 draft pick Theo Ruth and last year’s captain, Chris Clark.
The Capitals have had their hands full with Columbus over the past few years. Washington is 1-2-1 against the Blue Jackets since 2008-09. It is only the preseason, but a win tonight will set the Capitals in the right direction.