3 days of practice making Caps eager for game Thursday
Recently acquired defenseman Alex Urbom will replace rookie Connor Carrick, and rookie center Michael Latta and make his Verizon Center debut in place of Jay Beagle when the Carolina Hurricanes visit the Capitals tonight at Verizon Center.
Urbom, who will wear No. 34, was claimed off wavers one week ago after the New Jersey Devils could not fit him into their lineup. Later that night Caps defenseman Jack Hillen broke his right leg and will miss the next four to six months.
Urbom, 22, shoots left and will play left defense alongside the right-handed shooting Steve Oleksy, who was used on the left side with Carrick Saturday night in Dallas.
In his first three NHL games Carrick has one goal and is a minus-2 with six penalty minutes.
“I like the balance,” Adam Oates said. “I want to give Urb a shot. He had a lot of practice this week and knows the system now. Nothing against Connor. We have seven D and we’re kind of a committee with the bottom three.”
Latta, 22, will be playing in his second game with the Caps and his first at Verizon Center. Acquired in the Marty Erat deal that sent Filip Forsberg to Nashville last season, Latta saw 6:04 of ice time in the Caps’ season opener in Chicago, recording one shot and one hit.
Latta was assigned to the AHL Bears after that game and recorded one goal and one assist with Hershey before returning to the Caps on Monday. He is expected to center a line with Erat and Tom Wilson.
“It shows they appreciate me,” Latta said about returning to the Caps after a one-game stint in Hershey. “The way I look at it, I want to bring energy, make some hits, draw penalties, play good D-zone and stick up for your teammates.
“Having said that, we do have Marty Erat on our line who is a very, very good player. When he has the puck on his stick you close your eyes and go to the net.”
Latta said he’s happy to have “a quality guy” like Erat on his line.
“A lot of guys can be bitter in his situation, obviously, but he’s really helping us out, which is nice.”
Oates said he still sees Beagle as a valuable asset at center.
“The way we phrased it to Jay is that we’re not unhappy with him,” Oates said. “He’s a young guy, he’s very important and we want him to keep improving.”