When the Washington Capitals were abruptly knocked out of the NHL Playoffs last spring, it was evident to fans and management alike that changes were imminent. The team could simply not afford another disappointment of a season.
One busy offseason later, the summer is winding to a close and the Capitals roster has taken shape. The new season starts tomorrow, and fans and players alike are biting their nails in anticipation. Here is a look at how the lines should stack up when our heroes return to the ice.
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas B??ckstr??m - Troy Brouwer Towards the beginning of training camp, Boudreau player around with several different combinations for his first line, most notable putting Marcus Johansson between Ovechkin and Mike Knuble, but it appears he has settled on the three players most predicted the Capitals would have together. Alex Ovechkin is an obvious choice for the top line. He is one of the league's top players and the leader on this team. B??ckstr??m is coming off a struggling season, but he is one of the better centers in the world and has forged a brilliant partnership with Ovechkin over the past several seasons. Brouwer, who was acquired for a first rounder this offseason, will become their long sought-after winger and could be the final piece of the puzzle for a line that has the potential to be the best in the league. Alexander Semin - Marcus Johansson - Mike Knuble This is an incredibly well-balanced line. You have the playmaker in Johansson, the goalscorer in Semin, and the man who will put in the rebounds in Knuble. Semin, who has suffered somewhat of a downfall these past few seasons, will finally have a high-quality center for a full season. Knuble, no longer on the first line, will have to readjust to new linemates, but with his experience he shouldn't have too much trouble. This is a line that has the potential to create good chemistry, and if they can get going create a dangerous one-two punch with the first line of Ovechkin, B??ckstr??m, and Brouwer. Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Joel Ward What an improvement from last year! This is a top-tier third line, arguably the best in the league, and the Capitals have done a great job to get them together. They will play a gritty, simple, down-low game, and they will serve to exhaust opposing defenders to open up chances for the top two lines. That said, they averaged 12 goals last season, showing that they will be able to contribute on the offensive side of the game as well. Chimera, who recently re-signed, brings the speed component. He will be the guy who goes in on the forecheck. Ward is your prototypical drive-to-the-net forward, and will serve the Capitals well this season. Laich will be the talisman on the line, and with a shiny new contract will be expected to run it. He could make this third line the very best in the world.
Read the full season review HERE