Game On: News and notes on Caps' season opener

Game On: News and notes on Caps' season opener
January 19, 2013, 1:15 pm
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TAMPA

News and notes as the Capitals prepare for their season opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bat Times Forum [7 p.m., CSN, 106.7 FM]:

Lucky Sevens: Caps coach Adam Oates and Lightning coach Guy Boucher each will play 11 forwards and seven defensemen tonight.

That means Tom Poti will be playing his first NHL game since Jan. 12, 2011 in Tampa. He’ll take turns with defensemen Jeff Schultz and Jack Hillen.

That also leaves defenseman John Erskine and forwards Joey Crabb and Eric Fehr as the Caps’ healthy scratches and means double shifting for right wing Alex Ovechkin.

Capitals forward lines:

Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backtrom – Alex Ovechkin

Wojtek Wolski – Mike Ribeiro – Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Joel Ward

Matt Hendricks – Matthieu Perreault

Lightning forward lines:

Ryan Malone – Steven Stamkos – Marty St. Louis

Cory Conacher – Vincent Lecavalier – Teddy Purcell

Nate Thompson - Adam Hall – B.J. Crombeen

Benoit Pouliot – Tom Pyatt

Capitals defense pairings:

Karl Alzner – John Carlson

Roman Hamrlik – Mike Green

Jeff Schultz – Tom Poti/Jack Hillen

Lightning defense pairings:

Matt Carle – Eric Brewer

Viktor Hedman – Sami Salo

Marc-Andre Bergeron – Brian Lee/Keith Aulie

Capitals starting goaltender: Braden Holtby

Lightning starting goalie: Anders Lindback

Opening night captains: No surprises here. Oates announced his captain is Ovechkin with Green, Backstrom and Brooks Laich as alternates. Lecavalier is wearing the “C” for the Bolts, with St. Louis and Stamkos as alternates.

What Guy Boucher is saying: “Both teams are going to come out like lions out of a cage. Everybody knows that. We have to make sure we keep our emotions under control. Once you pass the point of emotional climax, it ain’t good anymore. Excitement becomes anxiety. This is not a normal night. This is very exciting for everybody. Guys have been waiting a long tome for this.”  

What Adam Oates is saying: “I’m excited. That’s why I was stuttering right there. I am very excited to coach these guys. I think they’re a great team and I'm excited to be a coach.”

Who to watch on the Caps: Ovechkin admits he’s still getting used to play right wing and it will be worth watching his skating lanes, especially in the defensive zone, where he’ll be asked to come back on the right side instead of the left. “I can’t wait for the season to start,” Ovechkin said. “I feel much better now. It was not lots of time [on right wing] but I have to tell myself to do what I need to do. Of course all my life I played on the left side and right now I have to create some opportunities from the right side.”

Who to watch on the Lightning: Rookie left wing Cory Conacher will be making his NHL debut and many tout him as a Rookie of the Year candidate, but most eyes will be on Stamkos, who led the NHL with 60 goals last season. “I’m not really worried about a number. I wouldn’t have told you I shot for 60 goals last year. Whether the media says you can score 30, 40, 50 goals is not going to affect my mindset. I’d love to score one or two goals every game, that’s the mindset I have, but I’m a realist.”

Injury update: Laich [groin] did not make the trip for the Caps. Mattias Ohlund [knee] and Matt Taormina [upper body] are out for the Lightning,