By 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Martin Erat had arrived in Washington and roughly a half-hour later he was on the ice in Arlington for the morning skate with his new teammates albeit in some old Nashville Predators gar.
Erat will be in the lineup tonight as the Capitals host the New York Islanders at Verizon Center, skating as the left wing on the third line alongside Mathieu Perreault and Joel Ward. The 31-year-old Czech native skated on a line with Ward often during their overlapping time in Nashville and Coach Adam Oates said he hopes that familiarity will ease Erat’s transition.
“There’s not much different in the systems anymore in the league. You’ve got little changes. I just have to get used to it, get it in my head and after that it should be easier,” Erat said. “It’s hard after 11 years when you’ve got something in your head and go and change it, but that’s why we are hockey players.”
Oates added that he doesn’t expect to ease Erat into action. The veteran winger played in all situations — even strength, penalty kill and power play — for Nashville and Oates plans to use him in the same manner.
“Very important, a guy who can play in all situations,” said Oates, who noted that Erat was second among Predators forwards in average time on ice per game. “It’s why he’s an upper echelon player. He’s a smart guy, can handle the responsibilities of playing in some of the different types of situations.”
Erat isn’t the only player the Capitals will add to the lineup tonight. Eric Fehr will be back in the mix after missing four games with an upper body injury and will play on the fourth line with Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle.
With Erat and Fehr in the lineup, Jason Chimera is the odd man out among forwards and will sit as a healthy scratch along with Wojtek Wolski and Aaron Volpatti. Jeff Schultz will be the healthy scratch among the defensemen.
In the least surprising lineup note of the day, Braden Holtby gets the nod against the Islanders and will be making his 10th consecutive start.
Based off the morning skate here’s what the Capitals lineup should look like tonight against the Islanders: