Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Game Summary: the Line Changes Pay Off
The Washington Capitals finished out their home stand on a high note, defeating the Blue Jackets four to one. The Capitals now head out to Canada for four straight games before returning to the East Coast to play in the City of Brotherly Love against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Capitals line changes paid off in a big way tonight. Martin Erat responded to his promotion with a three assist performance and importantly, two of those came at even strength.
Both of Erat’s assists at even strengths were fantastic displays of his skill and emblematic of his talents. The first was a result of his hold-up play along the boards and maneuvering in traffic before a beautiful curl and drag by Steve Olesky to allow Brooks Laich the tap in off the rebound. Erat’s second helper was the result of a takeaway in the defensive zone which allowed Troy Brouwer to score with two whacks on the doorstep.
For tonight, Erat sparked the second line and that resulted in a great performance from all three forwards. Give Adam Oates credit; many were questioning why Laich and not Grabovski was centering the line but tonight it worked out.
The defense also looked re-energized under their new pairings. While there were some defensive breakdowns, they were mostly the result of poor tracking back by the forwards in the form of no one picking up the third man roaming into the slot. Holtby was solid in net and did an excellent job reacting to the bang-bang plays.
More importantly, though, Oates made a key adjustment, allowing the defenseman to join the attack more frequently and add to the rush. Mike Green, Nate Schmidt, John Carlson, and even Karl Alzner all had decent chances when they moved down from the point and put shots on net.
All in all, the Caps looked much better tonight, improving on their even strength struggles. While it’s just one game, so far, the lineup changes have served their purpose and awakened the dormant Capitals attack.