The teams are on the ice for the pregame warm-ups as I type this. Alex Ovechkin didn’t think much of the ice in Vancouver, but he should appreciate the surface here in Edmonton, generally known as the NHL’s best sheet. Outside the rink, there is ice and snow. We got in around 2:30 a.m. local time, and it was snowing pretty good when we arrived. There was no skate today; the Caps had a team meal at the hotel this afternoon followed by a meeting.
Talking with Glen Hanlon before the game, the lineup changes are not at all punitive in nature. After two tough road games and the travel here overnight, it’s good to get some fresh legs in the lineup. The Beech for Laich swap should give the Caps a bit more speed against one of the league’s swiftest outfits. What remains to be seen is how the lines will shake out. With Beech and Klepis both on the sidelines, someone will have to center for Richard Zednik and Alexander Semin. My money is on Brian Sutherby, who made a great play to set up Ovechkin’s goal in Vancouver last night. But we’ll see in a matter of minutes.
Oh, and I think it goes without saying, but Brent Johnson gets the call in goal tonight. Olie Kolzig gets a well-deserved night off after a couple of tough and heroic performances in the first two games of the trip.