CAPITALS (24-11-8) at PREDATORS (29-9-4)
TV: NHLN-US, CSN-DC+, FS-TN
NASHVILLE -- Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz will return to Bridgestone Arena on Friday to coach against the Nashville Predators for the first time since he was fired after last season.
Trotz spent 15 seasons as the coach of the Predators and won 557 games. He was hired by the Capitals this past offseason and has led them to a 24-11-8 record to start the season.
"It's really good," Trotz said. "It's like home week. I'm meeting and greeting everybody, and it's great. You see faces and you see how well they're doing and just people that you've come to work for in the past and talk to every day. Really, really good. Exceptional. I lived here for so long, and it is still my home. It was good to get back and see the city and all the great things they've done here."
Trotz expects the game Friday to be an emotional one for him. Nashville is planning a video tribute for Trotz at some point during the game.
"I am emotional when it comes to certain things, be it family or children or things that I care about," Trotz said. "I do get emotional, and I will tear up and I'll be myself. We'll see how that goes tonight. There will probably be some emotion."
Washington forward Joel Ward played for Trotz in Nashville from 2008-2011 and has already experienced returning to Bridgestone Arena for the first time as a member of the opposing team. He knows how different that experience can be.
"I'm glad that he can kind of deflect some of that attention a little bit," Ward said. "It is a little nerve-racking the first time because it's different to be on the other side in the locker room. It was a locker room I had never really seen before my first time, so it obviously is a little different experience."
Nashville is excited to play against Trotz for the first time. Trotz was the only NHL coach that players like defenseman Roman Josi knew before this season.
"It's definitely different," Josi said. "For him, it's even bigger. He's been here like 15 years, so it's definitely a big moment for him. He did so many great things for this organization and for me personally. I had three great years with him, and it's definitely special."
Nashville is 17-2-1 at home this season, which is the best home record in the League. The focus will be on getting a win against Washington rather than the hype surrounding the return of Trotz.
"You focus on the two points," Josi said. "I think our focus is going to be on the Washington Capitals and on our game. I guess in the end, it's just another hockey game, and you're trying to win the game."
Nashville will be without goaltender Pekka Rinne for 3-5 weeks after he sustained a sprained knee in a 5-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
Here are the projected lineups:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Andre Burakovsky
Marcus Johansson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Troy Brouwer
Brooks Laich – Eric Fehr – Joel Ward
Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Brooks Orpik – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Jack Hillen – Mike Green
Scratched: Michael Latta, Steve Oleksy
Injured: John Erskine (neck surgery), Nate Schmidt (scapular fracture), Dmitry Orlov (wrist)
Filip Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – Craig Smith
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – James Neal
Matt Cullen – Calle Jarnkrok – Olli Jokinen
Gabriel Bourque – Paul Gaustad – Taylor Beck
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm – Seth Jones
Anton Volchenkov – Victor Bartley
Scratched: Viktor Stalberg
Injured: Pekka Rinne (sprained knee), Ryan Ellis (lower body), Eric Nystrom (upper body)
Status report: Washington will go with the same lineup as it did in its last game (a 1-0 win Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers). … Holtby will start his 21st consecutive game. …Hutton was the first goalie off the ice for the Predators and will start against Washington. … Nystrom participated in the morning skate but will not play.
Who's hot: Holtby has won three games in a row and has allowed two goals during that span. … Wilson has eight points in his past four games for Nashville and 17 points in the past 11 games.