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New lines, injuries

As expected, Coach Glen Hanlon switched up his forward lines at today's practice. He reunited Alex Ovechkin and Dainius Zubrus with gritty right wing Chris Clark. That group scored a combined 95 goals last season.

"I do think that we need puck chasers on every line," Hanlon said, referring to Clark. "Last night [against the Rangers] really proved that."

Hanlon's decision came one day after the coach tried Ovechkin and Zubrus with speedy right winger Richard Zednik. To put it mildly, the experiment didn't work. The line posted a plus minus rating of minus-4 in the Capitals' 5-2 loss on Broadway.

The club also suffered some new injuries against the Rangers. Forwards Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon joined winger Matt Bradley as having "undisclosed, day-to-day" injuries. (Twenty goal scorer Matt Pettinger is on injured reserve).

General Manager George McPhee said it's possible the Caps will have to call up one, maybe two, players from Hershey (Pa.) of the American Hockey League to fill out their roster for Saturday night's home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 6, 2006; 3:11 PM ET
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Hanlon shouldn't have split up the top line to begin with.

Posted by: Wes Mantooth | October 6, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Last night was one of the most uninspiring efforts i've seen from the Capitals in a long time. I know they are better than that. Atleast I freaking hope so.

By the way, on that breakaway goal in the second period, what was Steve Eminger doing? This isn't mites on ice. This is the New York Rangers. Put some mustard on that dump in. They just did not seem ready to play. Thoughts?

Posted by: Ian | October 6, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I take some solace in that I expect the Rangers to be one of the best teams around this season. The score wasn't far from what I expected, but I had hoped to see a Caps squad that looked more challenging to NY. Sloppy turnovers, being skated in circles... hopefully some line chemistry works out and people catch up to the speed of the game. Quickly. I'm mildly concerned about the injuries disrupting lines and slowing the adaptation of some of the key young guys who we need to step into NHL shoes right away.

Posted by: false_cause | October 6, 2006 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Watching the anti-christ of Washington hockey score 29 seconds into our brand new season was almost more than anyone should have to take, but realistically this is likely goin to be another season of taking a lot. Coach Hanlon can mix the lines any way he wants, but even exceptional coaching can't make up for the fact that there is just not enough talent on this team to have three effective lines -- or maybe even two -- at the NHL level. Ted's plan to build from within the organization is sensible, but at some point he's going to have to go outside for some older leadership and experience, or to fill some gaps (for example, a great center and a #1 defenseman). I hope that happens sooner, rather than later, so that the young guys don't get totally burned out waiting for everything to come together in the next three or so years.

Posted by: Top_Shelf | October 6, 2006 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Ye of little faith!! Chris Clark moved to first line. Alex the Great--2 goals; Alex the Maybe Great--HAT TRICK!! Long Season guys. wait 20-25 games before the big Boo Hoos.

Posted by: Ashley Hardwick | October 9, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

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