A Pittsburgh native, Mike Weber grew up watching the great Penguins teams with Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux and Paul Coffey.
“I was a young man when they won their cups,” Weber said. “Obviously, they were my favorite team growing up.”
Weber will make his Washington Capitals debut against the Penguins on Tuesday. Weber will be on the third pair with Nate Schmidt, matching a physical, stay-at-home presence in Weber as a complement Schmidt, a puck-moving defenseman.
“You’ve got to love playing against the Penguins, especially now being here and it being such a big rivalry and a possible playoff matchup,” Weber said. “It’s pretty huge. It’s exciting. I’m just looking forward to being on the home-side bench in this arena, so it’s exciting. I’ll just try to be me and continue to play the way I am. I’m a pretty simple player and just play hard and compete hard.”
The Capitals traded a 2017 third-round draft pick to Buffalo for Weber last week, acquiring an insurance blue-liner for what Washington hopes will be a deep playoff run. The insurance was needed quickly, because Saturday, John Carlson needed a procedure for a lingering lower-body injury. Carlson will be out three to four weeks.
As Monday’s trade deadline neared, the Capitals opted not to get another defenseman, comfortable with their existing options after adding Weber. The plan is for Carlson to be back in the lineup with 10 to 12 games left until the playoffs. Until then, Weber and Taylor Chorney will alternate in the lineup as the team’s sixth defenseman. It’s a good week for that, as the Capitals have four games in five nights, thanks to Tuesday’s game, which was rescheduled from January because of a blizzard.
“We’ve got to get him in,” Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s part of the group. This is our team. He’s from the Pittsburgh area, so we’ll put him right in and let him go at it and go from there.”
Here’s the Capitals’ expected lineup against the Penguins:
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Jason Chimera-Marcus Johansson-Tom Wilson
Jay Beagle-Mike Richards-Stanislav Galiev
Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Dmitry Orlov
Nate Schmidt-Mike Weber
Braden Holtby (starter)
John Carlson (lower-body)