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Boudreau ready to see how far Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin combo can go

Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Alex OvechkinNicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin are shown on the attack against Ottawa in March. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)


Coach Bruce Boudreau has typically preferred to spread out his most offensively-potent players in order to maximize the Capitals' options and to make it a challenge for opponents to match a defensive pairing or checking line against any single unity.

But given how well the combination of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin played Saturday when they were assembled on one line against the Calgary Flames, it looks as though he will keep the group together at least a little while longer. The trio finished with 10 points by the end of the 7-2 rout of the Flames.

"In a perfect world, they'd be split up because it makes the team tougher to cover. But every now and again, as I've done for three years, you throw [Semin] back for three or four games. They get on track and then you move him," Boudreau said. "We'll see how long this lasts until they start getting really too [fancy] playing with each other instead of doing the right things, because they want the puck and they can play shinny with it. When they're going and they're doing the right stuff they're a pretty good line."

Heading into Wednesday's match up against the Maple Leafs, Semin is the only one of the trio that hasn't gone more than two games without a point this season. The hope is that they can continue to spark each other the way they did against the Flames.

"The advantage or disadvantage is we're either going to have the puck all the time or we're not going to have the puck. Because once they get the puck those guys are going to hold on to it and it's tough to get the puck back from them," Brooks Laich said. "It was a treat to watch those three guys on the ice; that's the most talented offensive line in the NHL, the world."

Backstrom said previous stints with Semin and Ovechkin along with the trio's time spent together on the power play make it an easy transition. He simply has to adjust to playing with another linemate who likes to hold onto the puck, rather than someone like usual linemate Mike Knuble, who drives to the net.

"We've played together before and we are capable of scoring a lot of goals, I think, and creating a lot of chances out there," said Backstrom, who guessed the group would be together against Toronto. "I know [Boudreau] likes to change [lines] sometimes but if we win, I don't think it's going to change, but we'll see tomorrow."

The trickle-down effect is that Knuble moves to the second line with Laich and Tomas Fleischmann, whom Boudreau reiterated is in main possession of that line's center position. Through 11 games, four different players have spent considerable time as the second-line center -- Fleischmann, Marcus Johansson, Mathieu Perreault and, most recently against Calgary, Laich.

"For the most part, that's Tom's position," Boudreau said. "I thought in the last two days that line's looked pretty good together. So hopefully it can contribute a little bit."

Knuble isn't the only player on that line looking to rediscover his scoring touch, either. After a hot start to the regular season that saw Fleischmann post three points in the first two games and Laich record five points in the first five games, both players wouldn't mind figuring in on the scoresheet a little more. In the past six games, they've only tallied one point each.

"I feel okay as the center. I like it, but I have to improve on faceoffs and I have to improve on my scoring. I feel like I should score more goals," Fleischmann said, before discussing the quick start that he, Laich and Semin had with 10 points in the first three games. "We got split up, you know, and that's what happens, but the change helped the team, basically, because we started playing three lines instead of two or one all the time. You figure every team needs it; you need secondary scoring."

By Katie Carrera  | November 2, 2010; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich, Bruce Boudreau, Nicklas Backstrom, Tomas Fleischmann  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Mike Knuble: 'I'm extremely frustrated'
Next: First period looms large for Caps

Comments

you're on fire today katie - your hard work is appreciated.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 2, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

This redundant experiment will probably last for only one game, against a sad team like the Leafs, much like how it went with the lowly Flames on Sat. Then the Caps will be forced back to reality vs a real cup contender in the Bruins, when Thomas & D will yet again make the fairy line look invisible as usual.

But at least OV and his pals are having fun, that's all that really matters.

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 2, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

keep the s.o.b. line!

Posted by: bcatron11 | November 2, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Normally I would agree with bcatron11 about keeping the "s.o.b. line" together BUT sometimes that line turns into what a friend of mine calls the "care bears" line. There's too much passing ("After you!" "No, after YOU.") and not enough shooting. None of them is willing to crowd the net like Knuble. So sure, give that line a try, but make sure it's productive.

Posted by: pirate1 | November 2, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

So now the "S-O-B Line" is back.

Don't get in a lather folks: I have met all three of them and they all(perhaps especially Bãckis) seem to be pleasant and basically good-natured guys (Sasha Minor's occasional crankiness notwithstanding).


No, I think you'll all agree that the moniker "SOB Line" is in fact extremely appropriate, if for no other reason than this:


Q: What is probably the first reaction that comes to mind of an opposing player when scored against by this line?

A: Smashing their sticks on the ice, goalposts, etc., in total frustration and roaring:

"SON-OF-A-B****!!!!"


'Nuff said!

Posted by: Rhino40 | November 2, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Comments on posts here:

1) Flames aren't that lowly in spite of their recent bad play. They're actually 6-5 at the moment. They did have a bad year last year and missed the playoffs.

2) Toronto is normally lowly but was off to a good start this year. They seem to be coming back to Earth.

3) Actually, the combination of Ovi/Backstrom/Semin has actually worked well against the Bruins in the past. Examples: Dec 2008 game; 2009 season opener. For 2009, the Caps had usually put Ovi and Semin on separate lines during training camp and the preseason games but put them together for the opener and for much of October.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 2, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Knuble can still produce on the 1st or 2nd PP unit. However, at this stage he is really a 3rd (maybe 2nd) line wing. He is still good on the PK. At 38 and winding down, I think he is just too slow for the 1st line. He is still a valuable asset to the team just not as a 1st line wing.

Posted by: chriscaps | November 2, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

speaking of fairies..."Sid, you ca come up out of the basement and sleep in my big bed"
Love,
Fario

Posted by: boomer44 | November 2, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

*shrug* Hey, if it works, go with it. Just be ready to split it up if it starts getting too cute, but Bruce said that so I see no point in reiterating it.

Seriously, it's November. Early November. There's a lot of hockey to be played between now and then, and voting is a hell of a lot more important than anything you'll read on this blog today. Did you vote yet? If not, git 'er done or forfeit your right to complain about anything.

Posted by: kittypawz | November 2, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Please don't feed the Pens trolls.

Posted by: zmega | November 2, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Cstanton is now a scout. He is posting under the name Biggamesyd

Keep those 3 togeather. Knuble looks old and Flush looks like Flush.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 2, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey CapsFan: I know you don't watch other teams play, but the Wild just shut out the Sharks, playing the same style. I know CapsFan thinks every game the Caps lose, they're terrible but the other team also gets paid to play.

Posted by: pga6 | November 2, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

@kittyp,

I live and vote in Washington, D.C.

EVERYTHING I've read on this blog today is more important than my vote.

Just a fact. Maybe I'll change that . . .

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | November 2, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Love to see all these "Closet Capital" fans from Pittsburgh. Gotta give them their due respect if they are wasting precious time from their beloved flightless fowl to troll Capital Insider. But as long as they are "having fun, that's all that really matters."

Posted by: JohnWWW | November 2, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

You know, speaking of voting, it looks like some very high placed gov't officials in DC have also been reading this blog. For instance, as the votes came in tonight, George Stephanopoulos on ABC News asked Obama if he were frustrated with the results.

"Frustrated? Yeah I'm frustrated."

"How frustrated, Mister President? Are you just a little frustrated, 'Mike Knuble' kinda frustrated, or worse?"

"Well, you know, George, at least Mike has scored once this year."

I know, I know, keep the politics off, I represent no party, didn't vote, just can't help myself with the jokes.

signed, a middle-of-the-roader

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 2, 2010 11:57 PM | Report abuse

For whatever reason, Wapo's antiquated comments system won't let me report abuse on this comment, so I'll address the writer right here in front of everyone:

speaking of fairies..."Sid, you ca come up out of the basement and sleep in my big bed"
Love,
Fario

Posted by: boomer44

Grow up boomer44. This sort of thing isn't funny and, trust me, as a "fairy" I could care less what you think about me or "Fario"... but keep this board to hockey. There are kids who read this, gay kids coming to terms with themselves. Gay kids who like hockey. Gay kids who like OV more than Sid. They, we, I don't need this garbage. And we, at least I, won't stay silent when idiots like you come along.

And Wapo: fix the g-d comments section and boot this clown off already.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | November 3, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Ummmmm, I have heard people called a lot worse personally on this blog and although this was in bad taste it was simply a joke with a play on Lemieux's name. I'm sorry if that offended you capscapscaps2 but as I said, I have seen much worse through attacks directed right at a poster. I really do not see this as a "bootable" offense but boomer44 why don't you put an apology out there.

Posted by: PhilR | November 3, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Back to hockey related items.......

Does anyone know if there was a Dman recalled from Hershey?

Is Poti going to be ready or am I stuck watching Sloan play again? If he plays the way he did against Carolina I have no problem with that but how often can that happen?

King, Hendricks, Brads, Ersk better all be in the line up tonight and have their fists ready to fly!

Posted by: PhilR | November 3, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: pkme | November 3, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I for one am happy to wait and see how this "experiment" plays out. It will be a whole lot of fun to watch that's for sure. Play your game and don't underestimate Toronto boys!

LET'S GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: AmyS1 | November 3, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I think Boomer44 was talking about is a type of mythical being or legendary creature, a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural. I'm sure you just misunderstood about the fairy. I guess you guys just assumed he had another meaning.
You may want to consider lighting up!

Posted by: chriscaps | November 3, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

@capscapscaps2:

Agree that boomer44's comment was over the line.

That said, have you seen BigGameSid's posts? I have always felt that, although constructive criticism of this organization and its players was to be expected (and even encouraged), innuendos regarding their personal lives are not--viz.:

This redundant experiment will probably last for only one game, against a sad team like the Leafs, much like how it went with the lowly Flames on Sat. Then the Caps will be forced back to reality vs a real cup contender in the Bruins, when Thomas & D will yet again make the fairy line look invisible as usual.

But at least OV and his pals are having fun, that's all that really matters.

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 2, 2010 4:59 PM

Again, I agree that gay-bashing is uncool to say the least, but also try to understand that boomer44's comment--though juvenile and in poor taste, was simply fighting fire with fire.

Posted by: Rhino40 | November 3, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Is it me, or does Ovie look stupid in those yellow laces? I just find it hard to respect him as a captain.

Posted by: McLobo | November 3, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

This sort of thing isn't funny and, trust me, as a "fairy" I could care less what you think about me or "Fario"... but keep this board to hockey. There are kids who read this, gay kids coming to terms with themselves. Gay kids who like hockey. Gay kids who like OV more than Sid. They, we, I don't need this garbage. And we, at least I, won't stay silent when idiots like you come along.
Posted by: capscapscaps2 | November 3, 2010 7:07 AM

You're kidding, right? If not, you might want to take your insecurities to another forum, maybe the Gay Blade? Your political opinions are not welcome or appropriate here.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | November 3, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

OMG !!!!!!!!!!!

I thought this was a hockey blog ??????? What is with you guys, don't you know there is no crying in hockey .......... get over it.

@ McLobo

He may look stupid but when you can skate and shoot and check the way he dose then you can voice comments like that. By the way maybe you should look at the reason for the yellow laces ....... they are the traditional waxed laces used in europe and russia ............ yes they come in other colors but only in the past couple of seasons

Posted by: bqts | November 3, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

@capscaps - fair enough and you make decent points but as PhilR, Rhino and others pointed out you really should look at the original provocation; Mario's Basement Dweller's semi-creepy sidekick was definitely instigating there.

Speaking of, Syd - if you're going to throw offensive names around, what, exactly, would you call this behavior?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wqR17KrLKw

Posted by: Timbo_1 | November 3, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I am a retired 26 years in the US Navy Caps fan down here in North Carolina. My two boys and I travel to the Hurricanes’ arena twice a year to see the team at a price we can better afford. We combine trips to places like the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH to see games in Columbus on the way home and such. I have had my sons watching ALL of my, now OUR, Washington teams since they were "knee high." We love to watch the Capitals and pay to much for that privilege on DIRECT TV.

My youngest boy even accidentally discovered that we could pick up WFED halfway up our LONG driveway. We have listened to several games sitting in a Ford for a few hours, throwing back some soda and beers and "appreciating the nature" when it called. I have told them the stories about getting into trouble for listening to Ron Webber call games until well past midnight on my transistor radio and having it taken away for week. My oldest boy had a puck handed to him across the glass by Kevin Hatcher in the old Cap Center. (He was devastated when he was traded to Dallas.) My boys, my oldest brother and I attended the “Thanks for the Memories” game there in 2002.

Why did I share all of that ? My boys and I love hockey and the Capitals in particular. Living where we live, there are not a lot of hockey fans. Many of those who wear NHL garb are “new” fans from whatever US state doing well that year. We come to these forums for adult conversations before and after games as CSN is blacked out for us. Can we please keep the conversations about hockey ?

Fario, Cindy Crosby, or whatever poor sophomoric attempt at gutter humor is all played out and tiresome. Mario and Sidney have beaten us to often to see any thing funny about an attack on their manhood

Sorry for the long post.

Once we get back on track with our PP, the SOB line should be used not as an opening line. I think it would be more useful when the 4th line has just held the opposing D in its own zone again. The change of pace and skill set would most likely catch the their D and goalie off guard.

Be well and

Go Caps go

Posted by: DC_transplant_NC_CAP | November 3, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

"Mario and Sidney have beaten us to often to see any thing funny about an attack on their manhood"
Posted by: DC_transplant_NC_CAP | November 3, 2010 7:13 PM

I'll be more inclined to take you seriously when you learn to spell.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | November 3, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

LMAO. Thanks for taking the time to complain about my spelling. I was typing that and hitting send just as the puck was dropping and had no time for review. I will be more inclined to care about your inclinations towards me when you quit be so petty.

Posted by: DC_transplant_NC_CAP | November 3, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

n yus I leff a wurd er too fer yu to spull xhk pn lost post
)smille)

Posted by: DC_transplant_NC_CAP | November 3, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

The original mention of the "fairy line" COULD have been construed to me "fairytale-like" line, so ... whatever. But Boomer44's comment was clear and over the line. And as for you Wiley_One1 (who wrote: You're kidding, right? If not, you might want to take your insecurities to another forum, maybe the Gay Blade? Your political opinions are not welcome or appropriate here), I could care less what you think of me, my opinions, or whether commentary like mine is welcome or appropriate here. Boomer44 went over the line.

*I* can handle myself (trust me Wiley_One1). My point was kids read this... yes gay kids who like hockey and they don't need homophobic comments on a hockey blog.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | November 3, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

"*I* can handle myself (trust me Wiley_One1). My point was kids read this... yes gay kids who like hockey and they don't need homophobic comments on a hockey blog."
Posted by: capscapscaps2 | November 3, 2010 10:49 PM

Sheez. Aren't we all just quite sick of the politically correct police picking apart everything people say? What's next? We won't be able to call anybody an imbecile because the National Imbecilic Society might be offended. I would call you a d-bag but I don't want to get a letter from the International D-Bag Users Association.
Get over it!
If you were really a Caps fan for as long as you say, and you have spent any time on the official message boards, you would know that there has been a running gag about Cindy Crosby sleeping in Mario's basement since the boy came into the league. The point, I'm sure, was not to offend your overly sensitive sensibilities.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | November 4, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

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