The Capitals just had their morning skate as they prepare for their first preseason game of the year against the Nashville Predators in the Baltimore Hockey Classic from First Mariner Arena. The Capitals went 5-1 in six preseason games last season.
This is the first time since October 2nd, 1992 that the Capitals are playing a preseason game in Baltimore and that’s when the Baltimore Skipjacks were there AHL affiliate. The Skipjacks last game was in 1993, when current Nashville Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz was the Head Coach of the Skipjacks. Before being named the Skipjacks Head Coach, Trotz was an assistant coach for the Skipjacks from 1990 to 1992.
Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau played 32 games (including playoffs) for the Skipjacks during the 1984-85 season and newly named Capitals associate goaltending coach Ollie Kolzig also played for the Skipjacks.
The biggest question mark today is the ice surface and Bruce Boudreau said, “”Before we got on it, it looked really good, but it’s warm in the arena so it, it got chopped up pretty easily”.
Capitals defenseman Mike Green also commented on the ice, “The ice was actually better than I thought” and he also went on to say that it’s a great building and has a good atmosphere.
The Caps sold out the game and have sent mostly their top players. The Caps lines look like: Ovechkin-Johansson-Knuble, Laich-Backstrom-Semin, Galiev-Eakin-Bourque, King-Beagle-Mitchell, Alzner-Green, Flemming-Collins, Wellar-McNeill, Neuvirth will start with Anderson backing him up.
The line to watch tonight is the Caps third line. Cody Eakin, 20 years old, is fighting for the last spot on the roster. He played in three preseason games last season with two goals for the Capitals. Eakin wasn’t old enough to play in the AHL last season, so it was either making the Capitals or playing in the WHL, so they decided to go with Marcus Johansson and give Eakin more time to develop. Eakin had 36 goals and 47 assists in 56 regular season games for WHL Kootenay Ice last season and had 14 goals and 19 assists 24 playoff games (including Memorial Cup) and lost to Stanislav Galiev’s team in the Memorial Cup.
Galiev was one of the Caps best players during their July development camp, but the Caps 2010 third round pick, is only 19 and isn’t eligible to play during the AHL regular season this year. Galiev played in the QMJHL last season for the Saint John Sea Dogs and had 37 goals and 28 assists in 64 regular season games and 11 goals and 19 assists in 23 playoff games (including Memorial Cup) last season. Most likely Galiev will play for the Sea Dogs once again this upcoming season.
The third player on the line is Chris Bourque, who makes his return to Washington after playing in Europe last season and is the son of NHL Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. Bourque has played in 33 NHL regular season game, 13 with the Caps and 20 with the Penguins, and has one goal and three assists. Bourque, who was the Caps second round pick in 2004, won three Calder Cups for the AHL Hershey Bears.
Listen here to what Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau and players Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Brooks Laich & Cody Eakin had to say after the Morning Skate for the Baltimore Hockey Classic.
Bruce Boudreau Press Conference
Alex Ovechkin Morning Skate Audio
Mike Green Morning Skate Audio
Brooks Laich Morning Skate Audio
Cody Eakin Morning Skate Audio