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Second Line Shuffle

One of the biggest questions facing the Capitals entering training camp is the same one they find themselves grappling with six weeks into the season: who is going to center the second line?

Tonight, Brooks Laich gets his shot against the struggling Atlanta Thrashers.

Laich, 23, will go from a part-time checking line winger to a scoring line role as he shifts to his natural position. He'll play between Matt Pettinger and Richard Zednik.

"It's a great opportunity to prove myself," Laich said after the morning skate. "This is something I wanted to get a shot at in training camp. But with opportunity comes the pressure to produce."

Laich, who has been a healthy scratch eight times this season, is scoreless in 12 games. He is also tied with Ben Clymer for a team-worst minus-7.

The job Laich inherits has been a revolving door, with Kris Beech and Jakub Klepis also getting a chance.
(Beech will be a healthy scratch against the Thrashers; Klepis will move to the fourth line with enforcer Donald Brashear and grinder Boyd Gordon.)

Second line production (or lack thereof) has been a sore subject for the Capitals, who desperately need another scoring unit to take some of the defensive heat off of Alex Ovechkin's line. It's also a problem that will likely go away next season with the arrival of Nicklas Backstrom, the club's fourth overall pick in June. Backstrom elected to play one more season in Sweden.

"We're putting Brooks in a more offensive role," Coach Glen Hanlon said. "We've given Beech and Klepis some time. Laich is the only guy we haven't given a shot. We're going to give him a chance and see what's there."

On the injury front, Dainius Zubrus, Steve Eminger and Chris Clark will return to the lineup for the Caps. Alexander Semin (shoulder) is out.

Olie Kolzig is expected to face Johan Hedberg in goal.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  November 22, 2006; 12:08 PM ET
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Next: Caps React To Fine, Suspensions


Given that even though a playoff spot seems within reach the Caps won't trade for a second-line C... I think Tarik oughta find his skates just in case he's next.

Posted by: Tyler | November 22, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I think George would trade his mother for a second line center but WHO do we have that anybody wants?

Posted by: caphcky | November 22, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

We have 3,000 LWs. For the first time in several years we have an abundance of prospects too. And this may be more valuable to many teams: We have cap room. We could take on a guy in the last year of his contract (or on a one-year deal) and give up a fourth-round pick for him... and allow another team to clear some cap space. There were a number of deals like that last year.

Posted by: Tyler | November 22, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Maybe by January they'll finally give up and sign Allison.

Posted by: JLO | November 22, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

3,000 left wings?
We have more wingers than fans in the seats?

Trades are when TWO parties get together, not just because we have too many of one thing.

Posted by: caphcky | November 22, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I was happy to see Glen Metropolit return to Washington to score the game winner and pick up 2 points tonight. Yes, he only plays 10 minutes a game in Atlanta, but he still produces at the same rate he did when he was with the Caps.

Metropolit was hosed by the Caps a few years ago, and the Caps wasted the chance to trade him for anything. They buried him for a while in Portland of the AHL, where I got to see him all the time. He was awesome. Hey Hanlon, you were the coach there then, remember him? Good!

Posted by: Pete | November 22, 2006 10:52 PM | Report abuse

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