Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau isn’t scared to put all of his top guys on one line.
He liked the way Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin looked against Calgary Saturday, so he’s looking to keep the three together.
Most coaches try and break up their best players, just to make matching a little tougher. But Boudreau is smart to realize you have to play your best hand.
I’ve always thought it’s strange that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin don’t spend more even-strength time together. Both have gone through occasional dry spells (Malkin is in the middle of one now) that might have been helped by having the other as a regular line mate.
Of course, putting together that super line in Washington leaves a second, reclamation line: Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich and Tomas Fleischmann. All three seem to be in the middle of slumps. Knuble’s struggles seem pretty severe.
Knuble has just one goal this season. It could be a slump, but it could be something worse. They say hands are the first things to go on a player, and it could be that Knuble’s finally losing his. Luckily, Knuble can make himself useful in other ways, like creating space for his line mates, whoever they wind up being.
Boudreau said he’s hoping everyone gets going so he can eventually shift Semin off of the super line.
But if the super line is playing well, and the second line finds its scoring, I’m not sure I’d be in a hurry to split everyone up. Why not put your best line out? Especially if the players seem to enjoy working together.
When a coach changes out of a match-up, he’s letting the opposing coach run his bench (to a certain extent). So why let an opposing coach make your lines?
Boudreau is smart to work the super line and he’ll be smart to keep it as long as it’s effective.
Also, totally unrelated, but this is a great Boston Globe article on the art of shot blocking.