Michael Latta to center fourth line, Alex Urbom to make Caps debut against Hurricanes

October 10, 2013
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

In search for a little more offensive upside on the fourth line, the Capitals will go with rookie center Michael Latta over Jay Beagle to round out the forward units against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Latta brings a little feistiness and is a bit more of a creative player, and he should be able to help wingers Martin Erat and Tom Wilson generate some offensive opportunities. Conversely, Beagle, 27, is more of a shut-down, defensive-oriented center.

“The way we phrased it to Jay, we’re not unhappy with him; we want him to keep improving. He’s a young guy. He’s very important, we care about him,” Coach Adam Oates said. “We want him to keep improving. Sometimes you get an opportunity to sit down and learn something and work on stuff, it helps as well.”

As for developing a bit more of that offensive ability, “that’s something we’re looking for Jay to improve on, and still we’re looking at Latta, giving him some games and seeing where we are,” Oates said.

Latta’s inclusion in the lineup is the only change to the forward lines. The Capitals’ full projected lineup for tonight’s game is below.

This will be Latta’s second career NHL game after he made his debut against the Blackhawks in the season opener. He’s glad the Capitals thought enough of him to recall him so quickly once they had space on the active roster, and he is hoping to reward that confidence.

“The way I look at it is create energy, make some hits, draw penalties, play good defense and stick up for your teammates,” Latta said. “That’s all we’ve got to do, but having said that, we do have Martin Erat on our line, who’s a very, very good player when he’s got the puck on his stick. Just close your eyes, go to the net and hope for the best.”

>> Alex Urbom will make his Capitals debut against Carolina on the third pairing, skating with Steve Oleksy. After four solid days of practicing with the team since he was picked up off waivers, Oates wanted to give Urbom the chance to get in the lineup.

The defensive system the Capitals and Devils use are fairly similar, Urbom said.

“It’s pretty much the same thing,” Urbom said. “In Washington you’re allowed to move up as a defenseman, join the rush a little bit more, but it’s still the same game and I’m still going to do the same thing.”

Rookie Connor Carrick, who appeared in the first three games of the season, will sit out as the healthy scratch among the defensemen.

Said Oates: Urbom “had a lot of practices this week, knows the system now and nothing against Connor but Stevie deserves another game. We’ve got seven D, we’ve got kind of a committee for the bottom three.”

Braden Holtby gets the nod in net and will be opposed by Anton Khudobin for the Hurricanes.

>>Here’s the Capitals projected lineup for tonight:
Johansson-Backstrom-Ovechkin
Laich-Grabovski-Brouwer
Chimera-Fehr-Ward
Erat-Latta-Wilson

Alzner-Green
Erskine-Carlson
Urbom-Oleksy

Holtby in net.

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