Matt Cooke whispers sweet nothings to Ovechkin (Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn)
With the Capitals being off until Thursday, Capitals coach, Adam Oates, has some time to make the changes he wants to with his roster. During Monday’s practice Oates once again shuffled the Capitals lines. They look like this
Laich – Backstrom – Brouwer
Fehr – Grabovski – Ovechkin
Chimera – Johansson – Ward
Volpatti/Erat – Beagle/Latta – Wilson
When asked about the “top” line movement, Oates said “Just trying to experiment a little bit, get Backy a bigger body over there and see what it does. Just looking for chemistry and looking to see how it works. We’ve got two games [Thursday and Friday], couple days of practice. I’ve kinda wanted to throw Brooksie up there for a while but the injury bug has prevented that.”
Since it looks like Laich is moving to a “top” line it seems to be safe to say that his groin is feeling better. The injury to his groin has plagued his season as of late, forcing him to miss 14 games so far. 11 games straight before he tried to come back on Dec. 23rd, but he suffered a setback after the game forcing him to miss 3 more.
Oates moved Ovechkin down to the “2nd” line to try to bring some scoring to the line that was struggling. The best way to do so was to break up Ovechkin and Backstrom, so that he did. Since the two have been separated (2 games) Ovechkin and Backstrom have 2 points eaach (1G, 1A and 0G, 2A respectively).
Now something I think that must happen that most Capitals fans don’t want to hear, it’s time for Grubauer to go down. I’m not going to take away what the kid has down for the team, or how well the kid has played since he has been called up. Holtby is our number one goalie, despite he recent performance (5 GA on 11SA), but it is hard to blame the goaltender. It didn’t help that it was the goaltenders first action in about two weeks.
It is also hard to blame the goaltender completely as well, his defense gave him little help. The first goal was by Nino Niederreiter who was left all alone in front. Jay Beagle, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, and Dmitry Orlov were all on the ice but none we close enough to Nino to make a difference.
The second and third goals for the Wild, both scored by Ryan Suter, were both hard to put on Holtby as well. Heatly proved on both that he makes a better door than a window, screening Holtby on both goals. I guess you really can’t stop what you can see.
The fourth Wild goal was very fluky, the puck floated over Holtby and ended up behind him with Zucker their to put it away.
The last goal came after Mike Green failed to do his job in breaking up the 2-1. This isn’t the first time Green hasn’t been able to do so as he failed to break up a 3-1 that resulted in Carolina scoring the game winning goal. As a player breaking up an odd man rush, your job is to allow the goal to focus on one shooter. This normally ends with the defensemen lying down in the passing lane so the goalie can square up to the man with the puck. Green failed to do so and Suter got his trick.
In Holtby’s postgame he talks about how he has lost some confidence. The best way to get that back is to trust the goalie in a few games in a row. Goalies are interesting creatures, and confidence is important to them. A confident goalie steals game and a confident Holtby does that.
In my opinion Holtby needs to start, Neuvirth should back up (unless traded), and Grubauer back to Hersey for more experience.