Capitals Line Combo Roulette – Grading the New Line Combinations

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 11: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the second period during an NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Verizon Center on April 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty

The new line combinations from yesterday’s practice sent a decent-sized ripple of emotion through social media. Everything from complete outrage to full understanding. Everybody had a thought. In review, is there a method to the madness, or is this truly line combo roulette? We decided to grade each new line, in response to a team trying to find more scoring.

opinion Even though these lines may be just for a game or two, we decided to dig a little deeper into the line combos, and grade each new combo, as they relate to the sole purpose of generating more scoring. To review, here are the new lines:

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Again the grades are for the newly configured lines, in response to a team needing to jump-start scoring, and not for potential long-term use. Trotz stated in his media session yesterday that the goal was to spread the offense out, to make it tougher for teams to match-up against.

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Williams
This line actually spent some time together last season, and had some success. The line is tough to argue against, when a team is trying to find some scoring, as this may be the most experienced, cagey line the Caps can roll. With TJ Oshie still trying to find his game, this line makes the most sense, as far as a line for jump-starting scoring. Backstrom with Ovechkin is about as good a move as one can make for adding stability, considering a struggling Kuznetsov. [Grade: A]

Johansson-Kuznetsov-Wilson
This may be the most puzzling line for Capitals faithful. Wilson on the second line? With Kuznetsov? Well, the fact of the matter is all of these players are struggling. Kuznetsov has potted just one deflection goal this season, Wilson has been absent on the score sheet, and MoJo has cooled since the blazing hot start by the “Tre Kroner” line. In addition, it appears Trotz is trying to place one player per line that can front the net on a consistent basis, so we can see Wilson being placed here for that reason. [Grade C]

Burakovsky-Eller-Oshie
This could be your second line, but Trotz has decided to place Burakovsky on the third line, in an attempt to jump-start Eller and Oshie. Eller will be the anchor to the third line, come ‘Eller high water’, for the entire season, so it looks like a good play to keep him on the third line, and change his adjacent parts. [Grade: B+]

Sanford-Beagle-Connolly
With regards to jump-starting scoring, this is not an ideal line. Scratching Daniel Winnik doesn’t seem like a good idea at all. It appears this may be more of an evaluation line, to get both Sanford and Connolly playing time, and see where we sit with these two players. That’s fine, but the focus of this evaluation is jump-starting scoring, so this line doesn’t read well. This will be the first time Winnik is a healthy scratch since being traded to Washington. [Grade: D]

Tonight’s game should be extremely interesting.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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