Forward Line Bingo: Reactionary? Or Method to the Madness?

Photo: CSN Mid-Atlantic

It’s becoming part of the daily fabric. Caps fans near and far await the results of the latest forward line combinations from the morning’s practice. “I wonder what Trotz had up his sleeve today” has become my morning mantra. So what to make of the continuous tweaking? 

Research and development – For some, this makes sense for a number of reasons. Probably the biggest benefit is researching and assessment of line chemistry and overall effectiveness. Let’s be honest, some of the previous line combinations were likely not conjured up in immediate response to a loss the night before. Trotz may have had a number of the combinations cooked up over the summer and in training camp.

Shorten the season – One could even hypothesize that Trotz is attempting to reduce the period of time the “final” lines will play together, attempting to avoid or minimize late season monotony. As long as the Caps are winning a majority of games, and in the playoff hunt, what’s the harm?

Keeping it fresh – In addition, the season is long (probably too long), and keeping things fresh is important.

Reactive vs. Proactive – One gets the sense that each drastic shake-up is reactionary in nature, most notably in response to a poor performance the night before. This could potentially instill a skosh of unnecessary panic and anxiety. Some of the post-game depression following recent losses seems to be too much, too soon to many Caps fans.

No consistency – One can’t help but wonder if players like Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller are suffering statistically from the continuous shuffling of wing-mates. “Blender” lines detract from some players ability to gel and become a cohesive line.

So how do you feel about the constant state of flux?


By Jon Sorensen

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About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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