WASHINGTON - Glen Gulutzan is looking for a spark.
After evaluating his fourth line over the past couple of games, he feels there's something missing. Outside of powerplay points from Kris Versteeg, the line hasn't been able to generate offence and have only managed four shots on net in the first two games of this road trip.
In hopes of getting more jump, Gulutzan is going to make a change down the middle, putting Freddie Hamilton in between Versteeg and Troy Brouwer.
"Trying to get some traction and chance generation with our fourth line," Gulutzan said. "It's been a few games where we haven't really created there. Maybe get some energy there and a right-shot face-off guy in our lineup."
For Gulutzan, tonight's game against the Washington Capitals is a prime chance for Hamilton to earn more playing time in the near future if he can add that missing element to his line.
"He wants to play," Gulutzan stated. "He's a fiery competitor. But for me, this is opportunity. We're looking for somebody to grab ahold of something here. It's a good opportunity for him to do that. The window is open."
Hamilton hasn't played since Oct. 21, a situation that would make any player frustrated and itching to get in the lineup. But his demeanor and work ethic day-in and day-out have earned plenty of respect from the coaching staff.
Video: F. Hamilton is eager to get back into the lineup
"He's been fantastic. It's tough, it's tough on him. It's not an easy job," Gulutzan said of the lengthy wait between games. "Getting in tonight, there's opportunity there too. He's got to seize it. He hasn't played much this year but if you look at the way he keeps himself - he's in impeccable condition, he works his tail off, he's a real good pro - so I expect him to have some juice and energy tonight."
Maintaining a positive mindset throughout stints without game action can be a struggle but the forward has been able to stay focused throughout the stretch in between contests. Hamilton credits those around him for keeping him upbeat and confident in his play.
"It's hard not playing. Obviously everyone wants to play every game," Hamilton acknowledged. "I guess I've kind been used to it, last year I was out for a little bit - probably the same time as this year. But the coaching staff, Martin Gelinas especially, do a really good job with working with me after practice and keeping me ready, keeping me in shape. It is tough but because of them, I'm ready to go.
"We have a really close team, especially on a road trip like this, it's fun hanging out with all the guys and doing different things like going to the Pentagon or going to a football game like we're going to do or dressing up like we did the other day. Stuff like that is good to keep you positive."