It's trial by fire for Caps rookie Schmidt

It's trial by fire for Caps rookie Schmidt
October 22, 2013, 4:30 pm
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Alex Ovechkin and the Caps are ready for the road

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Capitals defenseman John Erskine is expected to return to the lineup tonight in Winnipeg after missing the previous four games with an upper body injury.

Erskine will replace Alex Urbom on a third defense pairing with Steve Oleksy, which means rookie defenseman Nate Schmidt will get his second straight game on a top pairing with Mike Green.

“I think he’s done a very good job for so early in his career,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said of Schmidt, who will be playing in his fifth NHL game. “The NHL is a tough game and I think he’s done a very good job. Now we have to go on the road in tough environments and he’s gotta be ready to handle that.”

Through his first four NHL games, Schmidt, 22, has averaged 18:46 in ice time and has recorded 10 shots.

“He’s a great little player,” said Green. “He moves the puck well, he skates well and he’s got a good shot. Those are the things you need to be a skilled defensemen. It will take some time for us to gel together as a pair but he’s like a sponge. He’s ready to soak up as much information as he possibly can. I’m willing to give it to him.”

Braden Holtby [2-4-0, 2.91 GAA, .913 SP] is scheduled to make his eighth start of the season. He was tremendous against the Jets last season, stopping 85 of 86 shots in three victories.

Ondrej Pavelec [3-5-0, 3.01 GAA, .904 SP] gets the call for the Jets.

Here’s the projected lineups for both teams:

Capitals

Forward Lines

Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Alex Ovechkin
Marty Erat-Brooks Laich-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Mikhail Grabovski-Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti-Eric Fehr-Tom Wilson

Defense Pairings

Nate Schmidt-Mike Green
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
John Erskine-Steve Oleksy

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby [starter]-Michal Neuvirth

Jets

Forward Lines

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Devin Setoguchi
Evander Kane-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler
Matt Halischuk -Olli Jokinen-Michael Frolik
James Wright-Patrice Cormier-Anthony Peluso

Defense Pairings

Grant Clitsome-Dustin Byfuglien
Toby Enstrom-Zach Bogosian
Adam Pardy-Paul Postma

Goaltenders

Ondrej Pavelec [starter] -Al Montoya