Once again, Schultz can’t crack Caps’ lineup

Washington Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz (55) battles Florida Panthers center Shawn Matthias (18) for control of the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Ben Raby, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz could be forgiven if he felt a little dejected as the Caps trained back to D.C. after Sunday’s 3-2 loss in New York.

Not only had the Caps lost, but Schultz was once again relegated to the press box — a healthy scratch during the Caps’ annual Mentors Trip with his father John in attendance. Sunday was also the 13th time in the last 18 games overall that Schultz failed to crack Dale Hunter’s lineup.

Despite the lingering frustration, Sunday’s train ride to D.C. is one that neither Jeff nor John Schultz will soon forget.

“We were about halfway home on the train after the game,” Jeff explained Monday morning, “and I got a text from my brother just saying that he had just been called up to the NHL.”

The Montreal Canadiens recalled Ian Schultz yesterday and the 22-year-old could make his NHL debut as soon as tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“My dad and I couldn’t be happier for him. It’s kind of every kid’s dream to get that call when they say that you’re going up to the big club with the chance to make your NHL debut.”

Ian Schultz was acquired by the Canadiens in June 2010 in the deal that sent Caps nemesis Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues.

“We were in the car together,” Jeff told WTOP shortly after the trade, “and he got a call from the GM of St. Louis Larry Pleau and he was saying that he had just been traded for Jaroslav Halak. It was almost like somebody was playing a joke.

“ian didn’t know if it was true and we called our agents and they didn’t know either. But we went on the computer and we went on TSN and we saw them reporting it so we knew it was real. I think it’s a better opportunity for him and Montreal is such a great hockey city.”

In the 20 months since the trade though, Ian Schultz has spent very little time at Montreal’s Bell Centre. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward has played 81 games with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs over the past year and a half, recording six goals and 17 points and 132 penalty minutes.

“He’s a little grittier than I am,” big brother Jeff said. “I would say he’s similar to a Troy Brouwer type of player- he can score, he fights quite a bit and if he just goes out and plays he can hopefully get a few points.”

Ian Schultz is expected to add some muscle to the Canadiens lineup with veteran Travis Moen sidelined with an upper-body injury. In 45 games with Hamilton this season, Schultz has nine fights.

Jeff’s advice for his younger brother- “just go out and have fun and make the most of it up there because your first game, you always remember that one.”

Jeff also said that his father John was prepared to fly up to Montreal for tonight’s game, but wanted to first make sure that Ian would in fact be in the Canadiens lineup before making arrangements.

Catch the Capitals and San Jose Sharks tonight at 7:30 p.m. Coverage begins with Caps Pregame at 7:00 on Federal News Radio, WFED 1500AM and online at wfed.com.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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