Quick hits from today’s morning skate at Kettler, where the Capitals (21-6-2, 44 points) prepared for tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators (16-10-5, 37 points) at Verizon Center (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN+):
Latta in, Galiev out: After playing Stan Galiev in favor of Michael Latta the past two games, Barry Trotz will put Latta back in the lineup, centering a fourth line with left wing Brooks Laich and right wing Andre Burakovsky.
“They’ve got a few physical players and they’re real dynamic on the rush,” Trotz said.
Aside from what he described as a poor line change that led to a goal against, Trotz said he liked the way Galiev played in games in Tampa and Pittsburgh. He was snuffed by Marc-Andre Fleury on a partial breakaway Monday night.
“He’s coming,” Trotz said of Galiev. “I liked Stan a lot, actually.”
Stopping Karlsson: The Caps will spend a lot of time tonight focusing on Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson, who leads the Sens and all NHL defensemen with 34 points in 31 games (7 goals, 27 assists).
“He plays a little bit like Mike Green did five or six years ago,” said Caps goalie Braden Holtby, who will make his 25th start of the season. “He’s always up in the rush. You just have to be aware because he adds that different element.”
Caps defenseman Karl Alzner called Karlsson the best offensive defenseman in the NHL.
“We can’t be turning the puck over, especially with him out there,” Alzner said. “We need to hit him and stick him. We can’t just let him roll off checks because he joins the rush and when you have four guys in the rush it’s hard to defend.”
Best start: The Caps’ 21-6-2 record is their best to start a season. They’ve earned at least a point in 10 of their last 11 games (9-1-1) and lead the Eastern Conference with 44 points.
“We’re winning games in different ways,” Caps right wing Justin Williams said. “We’re winning them 2-1, we’re winning them 5-4. And sometimes we’re winning games that maybe we shouldn’t win. Those are all good things. Regardless of how you play, you get the win and you want to keep pushing to be better.”
Here are the Caps’ projected lineup for tonight:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams
Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Brooks Laich – Michael Latta – Andre Burakovsky
Nate Schmidt – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov – Taylor Chorney
Braden Holtby (starter) – Philipp Grubauer
Extras: Chris Brown, Stan Galiev, Aaron Ness