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Posted at 8:16 AM ET, 01/17/2011

Capitals use many line combinations against the Senators

By Katie Carrera

Coach Bruce Boudreau has altered line combinations throughout the season, between games, during games and sometimes in the middle of a period. On Sunday those groups didn't change once but twice from what they started the contest as Boudreau continues to experiment and look for ways to spark the Capitals' offense with the appropriate balance in each mix.

Here's what Washington started the game with:
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Johansson
Laich-Perreault-Knuble
Chimera-B.Gordon-A.Gordon
Hendricks-Steckel-Beagle

Roughly mid-way through the second period the Capitals were lining up as:
Ovechkin-Johansson-Knuble
Laich-Backstrom-A.Gordon
Chimera-Perreault-Beagle
Hendricks-Steckel-B.Gordon

At the start of the third period things changed again. This time to:
Laich-Johansson-Ovechkin
Hendricks-Backstrom-Knuble
Chimera-Perreault-Beagle
B.Gordon-Steckel-A.Gordon

Players maintain that they're familiar with all of their teammates so it doesn't really matter how the groups are assembled and everyone seems to understand that the maneuvering is done in the hopes of finding trios that last.

Boudreau was asked if he found combinations that he liked in all the switching against the Senators and he offered a little more insight into why he kept shifting things around.

"No. I think I went through 27 of them tonight," Boudreau said, only partially serious. "When you're not scoring you sit back there and you go: 'Do you keep doing the same thing or do you try something different?' Before the game I'm thinking [Marcus Johansson] and [Nicklas Backstrom]: great combination,outside speed. But then Marcus when he gets the puck more and he uses his speed through the neutral zone he's so much better. So it was something that I thought it was a good time to change."

Last week as part of Insider2 Neil Greenberg dissected the effectiveness of various lines but it doesn't look like the mixing and matching will conclude anytime soon, probably not before the team as a whole develops consistency at least.

By Katie Carrera  | January 17, 2011; 8:16 AM ET
Categories:  Bruce Boudreau  
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Comments

The Caps' TV guys, especially Craig Loughlin ( who I like a lot) keep saying Ovie is getting a lot of bad breaks this year, ie,rolling pucks or pucks that slowed down to prevent a post penalty breakaway.

Posted by: pdanziger | January 17, 2011 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I like Locker and Joe B. In fact, I think they're the best broadcasting tandem in all of hockey. Your comment about Laughlin got me thinking about something I wrote last night. Here's part of it:

"What bothered me about the game was thus: before the game, Locker spoke of injuries (Semin, Poti, Bradley, B.Gordon, ****55) and the # of games lost to injury, then proceeded to say POTI WAS THE KEY GUY, as far as injuries impacting the team. HUH?? No mention of DJK or his injury, as if he doesn't even exist.

Before the puck dropped, Joe B. plugged the game by promoting Caps "tough guy" Hendricks shedding some blood for the team. I like Hendricks, obviously, but I'm greatly embarrassed if that's who the team is selling as our resident tough guy.

Five minutes into the game, Ivan Carter informed the audience that BB was happy to have A.Gordon in the lineup because AG was happy to be up and "he wants guys in the lineup who are hungry and excited to play." I thought of DJK....is he not hungry or excited to play? He sure does practice a lot...

The code of silence concerning DJK MUST BE BROKEN! We know the nature of everyone's injury except for his, and it's not like divulging his injury would compromise the team's chances of winning a game. Tootoo and Rypien are in long-term counseling, is that where DJK should be??"

To Joe B's credit, later in the game he at least acknowledged DJK being injured. Unlike the other players, however, there was no mention of what ails him. The situation surrounding DJK is starting to take on the feel of a "Twilight Zone" episode, and it's a stain on the organization.

I'm convinced that DJK could manufacture some intensity that would enliven the bench and excite the stands, the very same tonic that could cure some of the Caps slow-start woes. As coach of the team, BB should be doing everything in his power to get this team firing on all cylinders...EITHER FREE DJK OR MAN-UP AND COME CLEAN WITH HIS SITUATION!!

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

@VT...

DJK, though better than I am at hockey, is not the option to:

- Make ovie start scoring again
- Make backstrom into the player he was the last 2 years.
- Keep Semin from being a selfish softee
- Make Mike Green understand what the perfect balance between offense and defense is
- Provide the Caps with a quality 2nd line center who can produce points
- Improve the almost embarrassing power play


I know a lot of people carry a torch for DJK, but seriously, dressing a guy to play 5 minutes is a wasted spot. At least bradley is a smart player who can kill penalties.

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 17, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

As average as the Caps have been, they can pull within 4 points and giving a game in hand to the Flyers with a win on Tuesday.

That shows alot about expectations of this team.

As good as the Flyers have been in people eye's, they are far from pulling away like the Caps did last year.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 17, 2011 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Of all the things that are ailing the Caps right now, I think the lack of more DJ King is by far the least most important. If there is anything I want to here from our front office about DJK it is not what his injury is but did they really thing this guy could play hockey like they said when we got him. He is worse than Brashear was and not nearly the fighter. If they traded him for a day old grill cheese sandwich I would consider it an upgrade. I know he is tough but he is not exciting, he is very patient and holds on forever to get in a hit taking as fare amount of abuse in the process. That does not inspire intensity. A guy who is willing to go with anyone, even if he is outmatched, and throw everything he has at them is inspiring.

Posted by: real8 | January 17, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

@ VTcaps: Don't expect to see DJK to be given a sweater for any game. The whisper on the street regarding King is that he is done with the Caps, as in Nylander done. They can't find any "ECHL" teams that will take him.

Posted by: puckman | January 17, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

@soaringcaps

First, almost every playoff team in the East plays a heavy who gets 4-10minutes a game (TB, MTL, and us are the only ones who don't), and they're none the worse for wear last I checked. DJK's contributions wouldn't be reflected in his score stats, but the skill players would most definitely benefit from his inclusion into the lineup.

@real8

DJK worse than Huggy-Bear? How would you know? You obviously didn't see any of DJK when he was striking fear in the central division, and his token 8 games spread out over 2+months....well, look how good Poti has been without some consistency.

Bottom line, the Caps show zero intensity or attitude and we make it too easy for teams who know they can come into our building and play a quiet, confrontation-free game.

Either play the man, demote him, or release him outright. He's serving no purpose right now, that we agree on. I'd love for him to go through waivers and see who, if anyone, would pick him up.

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I agree DJK is not the answer to our problems, but I want to know why he is being kept in IR...he practices every time, seems healthy, and I think it is against CBA to keep a healthy player on IR.

Posted by: capscoach | January 17, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

@puckman

That's what we all assume, so let's get rid of him then.....why keep him? It's not like his 600,000 cap hit is an issue

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone heard anything about when Crosby is coming back? Just curious.

Posted by: capscoach | January 17, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Ya'll can't tell me that, with a little less than half his salary remaining, a team going into rebuilding mode wouldn't be interested in a young, tough player like DJK for a conditional draft pick or future considerations.

I say assign DJK to Hershey this week. If he doesn't clear waivers and is plucked by another team...problem solved. If he clears waivers, couldn't Hershey designate him to the ECHL if they can't find use for him?

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I have gone down to the Kettler rink a few times to watch a practice or the development scrimmages, but this morning my daughter and a friend from college are heading down there to grab an autograph or two. Is it as hit-or-miss as I have heard or does anybody have any good hints that I could text her way. We were at the Classic and she bought a new Backstrom sweater she would like to get signed. I have heard some players are far more accessible than others. Anyway, any advice would be greatly appreciated by a couple of college kids. Thanks!

Posted by: gonchpup | January 17, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

DJK = who cares. Feel sorry for the guy, but if you're losing sleep over it, you've got too much time on your hands.

Posted by: drewsie | January 17, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

If I did the match correctly (probably screwed it up) I believe around 42% of the Caps remaining games are on the road INCLUDING 2 road trips of 4/5 games in length.

It's 50/50 whether this team makes the playoffs. Is what it is.....get the young guns up to Hershey for the stretch run and see if they'll be ready to put on a Caps sweater next year!

Posted by: joshu1 | January 17, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

"DJK's contributions wouldn't be reflected in his score stats, but the skill players would most definitely benefit from his inclusion into the lineup."

VT,

How exactly would the skill players benefit? Specifics would be nice.

Posted by: Steve_R | January 17, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

@josh

It's 50/50 whether this team makes the playoffs. Is what it is.....get the young guns up to Hershey for the stretch run and see if they'll be ready to put on a Caps sweater next year!

Posted by: joshu1


yes,...lets just give up now and see what we have for next season...please!

Teams have rebounded fron far worse circumstances than we are in...see Flyers and Montreal from last season!

We are tied right now for the SE with a game in hand on TB. We lost Fehr and possibly Semin, but Brads is almost ready to come back and he brings a lot of spirit to the locker room. MoJo seems to be finding his stride, and our goalies are capable. Alzner has been tremendous lately, Carlson and Erskine also look very good.

It's nowhere near time to give up...are we playing great hockey now...no...are we still in contention for the SE and even the east...yes.

knock on wood, but caps tend to play their best games against the good teams (something that needs to be worked on b/c losing to NJD and Toronto is getting really embaressing.)

They also seem to play better when they don't have long breaks between games. After every break they seem to be rusty coming back in.

Posted by: capscoach | January 17, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

joshu,

You got it backward. 21 road games left, 15 at home

Posted by: Steve_R | January 17, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

If I did the match correctly (probably screwed it up) I believe around 42% of the Caps remaining games are on the road INCLUDING 2 road trips of 4/5 games in length.

It's 50/50 whether this team makes the playoffs. Is what it is.....get the young guns up to Hershey for the stretch run and see if they'll be ready to put on a Caps sweater next year!

Posted by: joshu1

Barring one team going on a ridiculous run, there are really only 9 teams vying for 8 playoff spots in the East. If the Caps go on a swoon they could miss the playoffs, but the same could be said for any team.

IMO, I think it will be Atlanta who ends up not making it. They have been struggling mightilly lately, going 3-52 in their last 10 and are 22-18-7(or 22-25 for those who only want to count wins and losses).

Posted by: sgm3 | January 17, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

DJK is not worth much offensively or defensively but his reputation still puts fear in the minds of opposing players.

One big hit, one big run at another player..sometimes that is all that it takes to jump start a team.

I say stick him in the lineup against the Flyers, let him get a couple shifts in the first period and set the tone for the game.

I'm betting Ovie, Backs and the gang will have an extra jump in their step with DJK around and it might just get these guys out of their offensive funk...

Posted by: lynchburgvacapsfan | January 17, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

lynch,

Puts fear in people? I disagree. The Cooke's of the world are going to do their antics regardless of DJK being there or not. So he'll fight another's teams enforcer? BFD. He goes after Cooke and Cooke will turtle.

The team needs a Milan Lucic type, a true power forwards who happens to be a bada@@, not somebody who is of very limited use.

Posted by: Steve_R | January 17, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@drewsie

we're losing sleep not because of DJK per se, but because we've got no one in the role of enforcer (this is the NHL and not college hockey, correct?). Please spare me the "no enforcers play in the playoffs and there's no fighting then anyway" argument....we very well might not make the playoffs.

@steve_r

Skilled players would benefit from the inclusion of someone like DJK in many ways. First, he can get in on the forecheck and play a cycle game. He would go HARD at the opposing team's rugged blueliners. Whether he's wearing down the d or taking one off for 5 minutes and disrupting the pairings, his efforts could buy some time and space later in the game.

Emotionally, I'll let FLDave (where ya been?) speak to the benefits of someone like DJK. Morale, team unity, an "us against them mentality" can be cultivated through 4th line enforcers. Confidence, attitude, and swagger can come from fists just as much as they come from sticks. If nothing else, the actions of an enforcer could force every player on the bench to be mentally in the game and aware of what's going-on (lest they find themselves on the receiving end of a hard, tough play that players like DJK breed).

Someone like yourself will never know how a player like DJK can impact the team favorably because we'll never see it so long as BB's the coach. Countless times I've seen players credit a bout with changing the course of a game or being a defining moment in the season. Unfortunately on the Caps, it seems as though it's every man for themself.

Us? The two biggest bouts of the year (Erskine v. Boulton and Rupp) occurred without so much as a yawn from the coach or players. No one ever picks-up where Hendricks/Erskine/Bradley leaves off, and I never hear them talking about sticking up for one another. (I guess we don't have to stick-up for each other because we never do anything to cause the opposition to get into an uproar....wait, Pitts says they're going to get retribution in early Feb. for the Crosby hit, maybe we'll see the value come to light then)

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

vermont,

Did you watch any of the games that DJK played in this year? He sucked on the forecheck. He's too slow.

Posted by: Steve_R | January 17, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

The team needs a Milan Lucic type, a true power forwards who happens to be a bada@@, not somebody who is of very limited use.

Posted by: Steve_R | January 17, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The Bruins also have Thornton (w/McGrattan waiting in the wings) to support Lucic.

The Thrashers have Boulton to support Thorburn and Eager.

The Flyers have Shelley to support Carcillo.

The Rangers have Boogaard to support Prust.

The Pens have Godard to support....well, the players on their team don't need any support; the Pens organization clearly just wants to be badass.

Should I go on, or do you get the gist??

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

vermont,

Did you watch any of the games that DJK played in this year? He sucked on the forecheck. He's too slow. If he could catch somebody to hit, he would, but he can't so he doesn't.

Just an opinion, but when Hendricks had the camp that he had, the collective Caps brain trust looked at DJK and asked "what are we going to do with him".

Posted by: Steve_R | January 17, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Just an opinion, but when Hendricks had the camp that he had, the collective Caps brain trust looked at DJK and asked "what are we going to do with him".

Posted by: Steve_R

Agree

Posted by: sgm3 | January 17, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

@steve

Of course I've seen the 8 games DJK played, and he's about as slow on the 4th line as Erskine is on the 3rd pairing.....I see you, too, have been brainwashed by the "post-lockout" brand of hockey the team is selling, as if that's the only way to win.

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

It's clear that some (vermontcaps in particular) like the DJK type of player and will continue to push the point. King is obviously a character-type player and was most likely brought on for the same reason Brashear was. If you look at DJK's past few years in the league you will see how sparingly he was played in St. Louis, too - up and down to the AHL as well. Over the course of 4 years he probably has 100 or so NHL games under his belt - not much to go on. I am trusting that the evaluation by the entire staff of two teams is a pretty good indicator of his potential.

Posted by: gonchpup | January 17, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

VT,

Remember Lucic kicking the crap out of Erskine?

That's what I'm talking about. Someone who can contribute in other ways than just fighting. Lucic is a beast and doesn't need anyone to protect him.

Brainwashed? No, I formed my opinion by watching DJK on the ice. He's a f-ing pylon. I want tough players who can actually contribute in other ways. That ain't DJK.

Good observation about DJK being as slow as Ersk as Ersk is a pylon as well.

Posted by: Steve_R | January 17, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

VT,

Remember Lucic kicking the crap out of Erskine?

Posted by: Steve_R | January 17, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for confirming my thought that you know absolutlely nothing about fighting in the NHL

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

And thanks for confirming that you have blinders on where DJK is concerned.

Wishful thinking on your part doesn't change the fact that he's too bloody slow to be of any use.

Posted by: Steve_R | January 17, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@Steve_R Remember Lucic kicking the crap out of Erskine? Hockeyfights.com doesn't agree with you. Over 40% of the raters viewed their fight as a draw.

http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/97810

Posted by: puckman | January 17, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

@steve_r

it's all good........new threads everyone

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

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