The Washington Capitals embark on their first significant road trip that will take them from Calgary to Dallas in less than a week. Their first stop however will be a special occasion for a few Caps who call Calgary their home.
Mike Green has rented out a suite at the Pengrowth Saddledome for friends and family attending tonight's game. The Calgary native played with the junior team here, the Hitman. Jeff Schultz is another native who has friends and family that will be in attendance as well.
Tyler Sloan, who was called up for the first time his career to the NHL is also a Calgary boy (or Calgarian, as they liked to be called). Sloan's father, who made the trip to Hershey to see his son play, has to jump on a plane and head back to Calgary to witness his boy's first NHL start. Racking up those miles.
There some are other connections to the Calgary area that has some Capitals feeling at home. Chris Clark was apart of the Flames amazing run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2004 only to lose in game 7 to Tampa Bay. Micheal Nylander has also donned the Flames sweater for parts of 5 seasons. And assistant coach Dean Evason is a former coach of the Calgary Hitman.
While the Caps may feel comfortable in the Stampede City, they are still there to win a game and getting off on the right foot on this road trip is important. The Carolina Hurricanes and the Caps tied in points (7), the race for first is starting in the Southeast Division.
The Caps will face a dangerous, but struggling, Calgary Flames squad. Since the Flames haven't gotten the start they were hoping for, one could surmise that they will be playing the Capitals pretty tough. I expected a physical game as Jerome Iginla will never back down from a fight (both literally and metaphorically). It should be a good game.
The Caps signed goaltender Braden Holtby to an entry level contract. It doesn't mean much as Holtby will stay with his team. He made quite an impression in development camp and beyond. Congrats on becomeing a Cap!
Tom Poti, Viktor Kozlov and Donald Brashear are all making the western swing road trip. All have been nursing injuries, but the possibility of them returning to the line up during the trip west has them on the plane with the rest of the team.
It looks like Nick Backstrom has been demoted (if you want to call it that) to the second line with Alex Semin. That pushes up Sergei Fedorov to the first line, where he was for the playoffs. Backstrom and Semin both found a chemistry together last April as the series with the Flyers dragged on. With Semin's hot hand, this might spark Backstrom's performance after a slow start. Also Matt Bradley has moved up to a scoring line. His hard work has him adding some toughness to the Caps second line. He is a guy to also get into the corners and dig out some pucks from scrums. Hopefully a few of those pucks go to an open Semin.