The Capitals (12-9-1, 25 points) host the St. Louis Blues (13-8-2, 28 points) in Dale Hunter’s first game as an NHL Head Coach tonight. Hunter, who hasn’t ever coached in the AHL or NHL, will be wearing his same blue suit that he has worn in every game since 2006 while coaching the OHL London Knights.
Hunter says he has made a few changes to what the Caps do, but can’t make any drastic changes because they don’t have any time to practice it. The forward lines tonight likely will be: Ovechkin-Backstrom- Brouwer, Eakin-Johansson-Semin, Chimera-Laich-Ward, Hendricks-Halpern-Knuble. John Erskine is expected to return on defense after missing four games after re-injuring his left shoulder. Jeff Schultz and Mike Green are the likely defensive scratches for the Caps tonight while Mathieu Perreault is the likely forward scratch.
Mike Green skated for about 40 minutes today and has skated now three days in a row and Hunter said he’s still day-to-day but added, “He’s getting better, he’s skating, so it’s good news.” Green hasn’t played since November 11th and the Caps are 8-0-0 with him in the line up.
Tomas Vokoun (10-5-0, 2.82 GAA, .905 Save pct.) will be in goal for the Capitals who look to snap a two game losing the streak.
The St. Louis Blues also recently fired their head coach, Davis Payne, on November 6th and hired Ken Hitchcock. Hitchcock has coached exactly ten games and the Blues are 7-1-2 during that time. Jason Arnott, who the Caps traded David Steckel and a second round pick for last season, will make his return to Verizon Center after playing 20 regular season & playoff games for the Capitals last season. Arnott had five goals and eight assists during his time as a Capital.
Jaroslav Halak (3-7-2, 2.57 GAA, .895 Save pct.) will likely be in goal for the Blues tonight. Halak was unbelievable in goal for the Montreal Canadiens when they beat the Capitals in seven games in the first round of the 2009-2010 NHL playoffs.
Listen here to what Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter, Associate Goalie Coach Olie Kolzig, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom & John Erskine have to say about Dale Hunter, what they plan on doing tonight, on the St. Louis Blues and much more.
Dale Hunter Practice Audio
Olie Kolzig Practice Audio
Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Practice Audio
John Erskine Practice Audio