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Alzner: Back where it began

Karl Alzner did not have to wait long at all to face his former team as a Hab

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

ARLINGTON -- Karl Alzner has taken part in the last seven Capitals home openers, but things will be a little different when he suits up for his eighth on Saturday.

Alzner spent nine seasons in Washington before joining the Canadiens as a free agent on July 1, but he's already back in The District after just one game with his new club.

"It's super weird. Really really funny schedule-making," shared the former Capitals fifth-overall pick from 2007, following practice at the Kettler Iceplex in nearby Virginia. "But I recall playing Montreal a lot at the beginning of the season when I was here, so I guess it was to be expected."

Indeed, the 29-year-old had no shortage of memories rushing back to him as he rediscovered his former digs.

"I've sat in this exact corner next to Grant McNeill at my first camp with the Caps. If you know Grant McNeill, he's a pretty rough individual," cracked Alzner of the former Hershey Bears -- Washington's AHL affiliate -- enforcer. "It's kind of funny to be back at square one here. It's just another page that I had a lot of time to reflect on during the summer."

Video: Karl Alzner on returning to Washington

Alzner was a longtime fan favorite in Washington, and No. 22 jerseys even peppered the crowd taking in Habs practice at the Capitals facility.

"It's definitely tough wherever you go, when you're with a team for a long time. And because we had pretty thick roots here, it makes it a little more strange," admitted the 10-year NHLer, who just recently sold his Washington-area home. "It was cool to see so many familiar faces on the other side -- I was chatting to a couple of the guys for 5-10 minutes. The nice thing about hockey though is that it's easy to transition between groups of players, and Montreal has done a good job of welcoming me so far."

Alzner for his part has been able to return the favor early on in the form of playing tour guide.

"A lot of guys were asking questions about the area, and I guess some of them didn't even know the practice rink was here," continued the Burnaby, BC native, who will forego grabbing dinner with his former teammates to instead spend the evening with his new ones. "It's kind of fun to have all the answers for everybody."

And maybe even some exclusive insider answers to help solve the opposition.

"Guys are saying that Washington is a tough place to play. Luckily I know a lot of the little sneaky plays and stuff, unless things have changed," hinted the 6-foot-3, 217-pounder. "Hopefully I can use that to keep them at bay as much as possible. I saw what happened last night though, so I know how hard it can be. It'll be fun to see how we stack up."

Alzner is referring to the Capitals' 5-4 shootout win on Thursday, in which Alexander Ovechkin scored three goals in just seven minutes to come from behind in Ottawa.

Video: Karl Alzner practices at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex

But the upcoming tough assignments against Ovechkin, Oshie, Kuznetsov, and Co. may actually come as a blessing in disguise for the reliable rearguard, who will be looking for a distraction to keep his emotions in check when he hops back on the ice at Capital One Arena on Saturday.

"I just want to do my best for my team. I want to go out there and live up to expectations, and contribute to a win," concluded Alzner. "In the end it's going to be another game, and I have so many things to focus on with the team, that I want to work out those kinks instead."

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