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Avalanche-Capitals matchup full of intrigue

by Adam Vingan /

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Considering his fiery disposition on the ice, it should come as no surprise that Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby idolized Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy growing up.

Holtby will not play Saturday when the Capitals host the Avalanche at Verizon Center, but will he catch a glimpse of his childhood hero on the opposing bench?

"I'll try not to look," Holtby joked. "Try not to meet your idols, I guess."

In a game that already offers plenty of intrigue, from the Avalanche looking to remain unbeaten to the goaltending matchup between Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, the men behind the bench will add yet another dimension.

Saturday's game will feature Roy and Capitals coach Adam Oates, the only Hall-of-Fame players-turned-coaches currently in the League, and how the two have utilized their immeasurable wisdom is already evident.

Roy has led Colorado to its first 4-0-0 start since the franchise relocated from Quebec nearly 20 years ago, while Oates most notably revitalized Alex Ovechkin's career last season, coaching him to a third Hart Trophy and establishing a bond between the two founded on trust and mutual respect.

If there is another team in the League that can relate to Roy's ability to influence his players, it is the Capitals.

"You know that what he's talking about is things that he's learned over the years," defenseman Karl Alzner told of Oates. "You know that what he's saying has got a lot of weight behind it. It's really easy to respect somebody that can do that and has done it before. When he tells you something, you listen because it's going to make you better."

Where the two differentiate, however, is in their demeanor. Roy has already illustrated that his inner fire still burns bright, having been fined $10,000 for his outburst following his NHL coaching debut. That night, he nearly pushed over the glass partition separating him from Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.

On the other hand, Oates' tenure as coach as been defined by his cool, calm and collected nature. Or so it seems.

"Just because you don't yell doesn't mean you're not fiery," Oates said with a grin.

Here are the projected lineups for the Capitals and Avalanche on Saturday:


Gabriel LandeskogPaul StastnyAlex Tanguay

Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - Steve Downie

Jamie McGinnNathan MacKinnonPA Parenteau

Cody McLeodJohn MitchellPatrick Bordeleau

Erik JohnsonJan Hejda

Tyson BarrieNate Guenin

Cory SarichAndre Benoit

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Nick Holden, Marc-Andre Cliche

Injured: Ryan Wilson (knee)


Marcus JohanssonNicklas BackstromAlex Ovechkin

Brooks LaichMikhail GrabovskiTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraEric FehrJoel Ward

Martin EratJay BeagleTom Wilson

Karl AlznerMike Green

Alexander UrbomJohn Carlson

Nate SchmidtSteve Oleksy

Michal Neuvirth

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Aaron Volpatti

Injured: John Erskine (upper-body), Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau)

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