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Today's Lineup and Road Crew Review

Coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed that Olie Kolzig will start in goal at RBC Center. Boudreau also said center David Steckel will be a game-time decision because of the flu. If Steckel doesn't play, prospect Eric Fehr will get into the lineup. Defenseman Sami Lepisto, meantime, will play his second NHL game and Steve Eminger will be a healthy scratch.

Here's the lineup (assuming Steckel plays):
Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Fleischmann
Pettinger-Kozlov-Semin
Laing-Steckel-Bradley
Brashear-Gordon-Laich

Defense
Green-Morrisonn
Poti-Jurcina
Lepisto-Erskine

A couple of other notes from the pre-game chat with Boudreau:

*Boudreau has not decided which goalie will get the nod tomorrow against New Jersey, saying he will make that decision after today's game. Goalie rotations are normally set a few days in advance, but (and I'm reading between the lines here) it sounds like Boudreau is going to go with a "gut" feeling, perhaps from here on out.

*Asked about the mood in the dressing room today, considering the importance of the matchup, Boudreau said: "The guys know. They are ready for this game. I don't know how the game is going to end up. But if it doesn't end up in our favor, it won't be because of will and want and work ethic."

*Boudreau also said he is not overly concerned about playing Lepisto, who will be skating in only his second NHL game. "There's always concern. He only did it once, but I though he played pretty good last week [in Tampa]. He moved the puck really well, which against [Carolina] is something you really need.

"The big thing we want to have is second unit on the PP, so that Ovie and Greener don't have to stay on for the full two minutes. That hurts them in the long run."

Yesterday in practice, Lepisto was manning the point on a unit that also included Gordon, Laich, Poti and Kozlov.

That's it for now. I'm going to go find the road crew tailgate and grab a burger.

Update:Caps fans are rolling a couple hundred deep tonight at RBC Center. Corey Masisak (beat writer for the Times) and I just got back from the Road Crew's tailgate gathering, where I met blog regulars Jay, Goat and lots of other die hards. I didn't get a chance to sample the food or jello shooters (this is a business trip for me, remember) but it smelled fabulous.

Just down the hill was a another gathering of familiar looking folks from the Fan Club, which also packed a pair of charted tour buses. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to make it down there and mingle with them.

There were two highlights for me. The first was hearing "Horn Guy" doing his thing. Whenever he blew his horn, that was of course followed by a loud, "Let's go Caps!" It made me feel right at home because Horn Guy sits right in front of the press box at Verizon Center.

The second was something I had never ever seen: cheese racing. Packaged slices of American cheese were placed on a grill. The first one to burst was declared the winner. I didn't see anyone gambling on this, but there were a couple dozen people surrounding the grill, so I'm betting someone had a few bucks riding on it.

Anyway, I've got to get ready for the game. But I thought all of you who didn't make it to Carolina would feel better knowing that you are well represented down here.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 23, 2008; 3:10 PM ET
 
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