Martin Erat, Mike Ribeiro, Jeff Halpern return as Coyotes

Martin Erat, Mike Ribeiro, Jeff Halpern return as Coyotes
March 8, 2014, 5:45 pm
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News and notes as the Capitals prepare for the Phoenix Coyotes [7 p.m., CSN] and the long-awaited arrival of Evgeny Kuznetsov:

Reunion night: Former Capitals Marty Erat, Mike Ribeiro and Jeff Halpern will be playing their first game in Verizon Center as members of the Coyotes. Halpern last played for the Caps two seasons ago, Ribeiro last season and Erat last week.

In the case of Erat, who first requested a trade in November, Capitals coach Adam Oates said it’s the job of a general manager to move players who do not want to be on a team.

“If a guy publicly says he doesn’t want to be here it’s very hard to go to war with that guy every night, it really is,” Oates said. “It’s more of a camaraderie thing. It’s hard to go to dinner with a guy who basically doesn’t want to be with you in a sense.”

[RELATED: Wait is over for Kuznetsov]

Ribs on the menu: Ribeiro leads the Coyotes with 43 points [14 goals, 29 assists]. He said he’s looking forward to seeing some old teammates and the red shirts in the stands. “I like everybody here,” Ribeiro said. “I’m friends with everyone.”

With 69 points the Coyotes have one point more than the Caps and are one point out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Halak’s debut: Jaroslav Halak will make his first start since Feb. 26, when he allowed one goal in a 1-0 loss as a member of the Blues. “We just hope he has a solid game,” Oates said. “Hopefully, we can protect him and not give them too many chances and he can get into the game early. He knows Phoenix, so hopefully he has a good night.”

Brown’s revenge: Caps forward Chris Brown played in 12 games for the Coyotes from 2012-14 before getting traded to Washington and making his Caps debut in Boston on Thursday.

“It was shocking to get traded,” Brown said, “but to get the call right away to play in the National Hockey League is an honor. It would be nice to get my first goal against the team that traded me.”

Casey at the bat: The Caps have recalled center Casey Wellman from the Hershey Bears and he’s expected to replace Brooks Laich, who will miss his second straight game with an undisclosed injury.