Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Would You Do...

No Alex Ovechkin? Hmm, considering this has only happened twice that Ovi has not been in the Capitals' line up ever, you might have some hard choices on how to replace him. Well, you can't really replace Ovechkin.

Bruce Boudreau pushed Brooks Laich up on the top line which makes sense. I know what your thinking, why not slip Alex Semin up in the open spot? That is an excellent question, but I think Semin is fine where he is on that second line. With Sergei Fedorov as a line mate, the two were responsible for 3 of the Capitals six goals against Dallas. There is no need to split them up. Putting David Steckel or Eric Fehr on that line to add some grit should make it a good offensive line.

Tomas Fleischmann and Micheal Nylander seem to be a good pair too on the Caps' third scoring line. With Flash starting to finish on some of those open looks he gets from great Nylander passes, they are starting to produce some goals. Chris Clark looks more comfortable on that line as well. With his gritty play and ability to get to the front of the net, the line as potential to score the pretty goal and some garbage ones. Which I think the Caps need to start scoring some garbage goals anyway.

The second and third lines just have good balance, right now. So, that just leaves Brooks who has been a lineup journeyman from the second and third lines all season, so far. Laich may not have the shot Ovi does, but he isn't afraid of carving a path to the net and getting his nose dirty. With Viktor Kozlov's smooth skating and ability to gain the blue line, Brooks speed and tenaciousness should pay off on changes. This may also get Nick Backstrom back into the game, allowing him more offensive responsibility. Instead of getting the puck to Ovi they will have to plan a break out, move the puck on their own and find the open guy.

It will be an easier line to defend however. Ovi's speed and wicked shot had a way of keeping the opposition defense honest. It also drew a crowd as the forwards back checked on him and the second defender came in to help. Not that this line will be seeing the opposition's best defensemen, it would make more sense for them to play the second line with Semin's hot hand of late.

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