The Washington Capitals-- New Line Combinations

The Washington Capitals Switch Up Their Lines

Adam Oates has made some initial changes to his lines based on this report from the Washington Post.  Oates switched up both the forward and defensive lines in an attempt to shake things up.

Forward Lines

Johansson-Backstrom-Ovechkin
Erat-Laich-Brouwer
Chimera-Grabovski-Ward
Volpatti-Beagle-Fehr/Wilson

Defensive Pairings

Alzner-Carlson
Schmidt-Green
Erskine/Urbom-Oleksy

Here’s a few thoughts: at least Martin Erat will be given a chance on the second line.  To be honest, I don’t expect that he will relinquish that spot easily.  Erat has been wasting away on the fourth line and we may as well get full value for the man who cost us one of our top prospects (no, I am not still bitter).

Second, why is Brooks Laich being treated like the best thing since sliced bread?  Laich should have been demoted not Grabovski.  Grabo has been a force on the ice and while he only has two assists in the games since, what do you expect from a line with Troy Brouwer and Laich on it?

Brouwer and Laich are borderline top six forwards at best and are better known for their defensive responsibility.  Laich to the third line makes more sense in terms of stabilizing the lines and being more balanced.

What is the point of demoting your third best playmaker to the third line?  If even-strength scoring is a weakness, it doesn’t make much sense to push Grabovski down the lines.

Moving on from there, let’s shift to the defense.  Karl Alzner and John Carlson have been reunited as the top defensive pairing.  Carlson has struggled mightily this year and it’s likely due to the carousel of defenseman he has been paired with.

This is the first time since the beginning of last season that Alzner and Carlson have been together and it will be interesting to see if they can easily regain the chemistry that they had in their younger days.

More importantly, though, is the promotion of Nate Schmidt to partner with Mike Green.  While it is only due to Erskine slowly working his way back, this is a great chance to make his mark in the NHL.

As has been beat into the ground, solidifying the defense has to be the top priority for the Caps to go far into the playoffs (or even make the playoffs).  Developing Schmidt and Urbom will be key to the Caps success.

These new line changes are an interesting attempt to switch things up and turn the tide of the Capitals this season.  Let’s see if they pay off tonight against the Blue Jackets!

 

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