Thursday, November 06, 2008

Of Eggs And Baskets

Tarik is reporting that the Caps top line at practice this morning is Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov and Alex Semin.

You might recall that this combo was wildly successful at the World Championships last spring. You might also recall that that Russian team had a guy named Ilya Kovalchuk on the second line to divert at least a little attention away from the top line.

So do you buy or sell this line combo (and the implicit second-through-fourth lines) working for the Caps overall?

Update: Those "implicit second-through-fourth lines" are now explicitly Laich-Backstrom-Kozlov, Flash-Nylander-Clark, Brashear-Gordon-Bradley.

25 comments:

b.orr4 said...

Don't want to brag, but I think I suggested that yesterday.

JP said...

@ b: Don't brag until it works. ;)

tim :) said...

I think this works, not because we have a Kovalchuk on the second line to take some attention, but because we have depth that can play at a high level. Expect success from a Fleischmann-Nylander-Laich line tonight, assuming Ovechkin-Feds-Semin keep all the defensemen busy.

JP said...

This combo implicitly shows a hell of a lot of faith in Flash, doesn't it?

I think this has the potential to work in a home game, but would question how effective it can be on the road where it's much easier for opponents to match up against lines.

Basically, the Caps have two forwards who other teams have to gameplan against. Does it make sense to put them out together? I guess we'll see, but it's more than a little Therrienesque desperation, IMO (which isn't to say it won't work).

~Mark said...

Anything to build some confidence, and win a game. You don't want to create an Ottawa scenario, but let's take one game at a time.

Ogre said...

Selling it. It worked on bigger, international ice, no? Semin-Nylander-Fleischmann has been our best line all season. No reason at ALL to break it up. Fedorov on line one, I'm fine with. Put him between Ovie and Kozlov if you have to, or put him at right wing. But damn if that doesn't handcuff us to one line.

b.orr4 said...

@jp: Oh I never said it woould or wouldn't work, I just said Bruce might try it as a way to shake Ovechkin out of his slump. Even if it is succesful, this is at best a short term solution that you can only use when you have the last change. On the road, teams would just match up their best defensive five and the offense would probably grind to a halt. (Wait a minute. It already has ground to a halt)

JP said...

One wonders if there are enough pucks to go around on that top line - and enough willing shooters on the other three. Heading into tonight, the Caps top three forwards in terms of shots on goal are, you guessed it, Ovechkin, Semin and Fedorov.

wittcap79 said...

Weak buy. I don't think it's a long term solution. But it certainly isn't going to hurt for a game or two. Might as well see what they can do on NHL ice.

BTW, when are we increasing the size of the rink to 96ft wide?

Anonymous said...

actually Ovechkin, Fedorov and Semin was the second line in that russian team

Chris said...

I'll buy, at least for the short term. The team has been out of cink and we have to get Ovi going. Ovi-Backstrum-Clark was just not working as I would have hoped.

erik said...

I am Orge, the Semin Nyls Flash line should stick together...

And I don't like all the eggs in one basket, but at the same time if that one basket is so good that it is able to score successfully against the defensive forwards and the best D pairing, then why not do it? But are they that good to do it consistently? I guess we shall see.

erik said...

whoops. I am WITH OGRE...

this space for rent said...

@tim:)

Lines actually look like this per Tarik:

Laich-Backstrom-Kozlov
Fleischmann-Nylander-Clark
Brashear-Gordon-Bradley

Green - Poti
Schultz - Mo
Erskine - Jurcina

Johnson
Three-or-More (backup)

this space for rent said...

I guess what gets me about all the line shuffling is that it doesn't change the big thing I've seen wrong in the last several games - we're depending on one-timers. We're not setting up a lot of scrums in front of their net, pouncing rebounds, driving the goalie crazy. We take it in, get a shot, and then we're not there to scoop up a rebound and try again. Ottawa was FULL of that.

Thoughts? How do we fix that?

meep_42 said...

If it creates more room for Ovie to get him out of the funk he's in, i'm all for it.

-d

Hooks Orpik said...

I like how you call it Therrien-esque, very fitting...Stacking lines usually works short term because playing your best players with likeminded skill benefits everyone. And now that really the only two players Ovechkin have clicked with (Backstrom, and to an extent Clark) are struggling mightily I think it makes a lot of sense to go with the 3 Russians and see if they can jumpstart something.

The one reservation I'd have about this trio is shift lengths...The two Alexes regularly extend themselves, in fact it's hard to think of when they'll take a shift of :45-50 seconds or less...If they get caught late in a shift with the puck going the other way it could be trouble. That said, I think the potential benefits well outweigh any pitfalls.

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) This is the obvious, but probably temporary move until Gabby gets better production from AO and Backstrom. It also must mean all the regular defensemen are ok injury-wise.
2) If this doesn't work its time to start bringing up players from Hershey who might be a bit hungrier. Some of these guys are playing like they are reading their press clippings!

JP said...

@ Tim: I hate those pairings - not a single guy among the bottom four who can consistently get the puck out of his own end while maintaining possession.

b.orr4 said...

All these line combinations are fine, but nothing will replace hard work. Last night, I re-watched the last game of the season against Florida. The Caps forechecking pressure was absolutely relentless. And once they got the lead, they just suffocated the life out of the Panthers. Except for the game against Vancouver, I haven't seen any of that this season. Until they make a committment to outwork the opposition for 60 minutes, these changes won't mean much.

Jonathan said...

Caps were the hunter and the end of last year. At the beggining of this year, they've been the hunted. Other teams are now circling them on the schedule. Gotta get back to being hungry and outworking teams again no matter who they're playing.

Shaggy said...

St Louis/Lecavalier
Datsyuk/Zetterberg
Crosby/Malkin
Heatley/Alfie

I think this has been done before.

@b.orr4 -
With Capn Clarkie off the top line, setting the tone, we aint seeing a lot of "relentless" in the way of a forecheck. Brash and Brads routinely are breaking their nads on the forecheck, and, to me, with good effect. The rest of the crew - eh, not so much.

ted said...

I am not against this latest line combo, but I think the Caps biggest problem with their offense has been their defense. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but in reality, the defense has had such a terrible time getting the puck out of their zone cleanly and efficiently, that the puck possession for the offense has suffered. Not only that, the Caps rely heavily on neutral zone speed when entering the opposition's zone, and that has consistently been disrupted by their opponents, primarily because the defense has done a poor job of passing the puck to the forwards. Maybe having Semin and Ovie on the wings will open up the middle for Fedorov to skate deeper into the zone.

Ogre said...

@shaggy
We didn't see that relentless forecheck WITH clark on the top line.

I think Erskine is playing hurt. I recall him blocking a shot, and limping around trying to get the puck out and failing. He's definitely a 6-7 d-man, but you need a 6-7 d-man. I don't think that means we should build the d-corps around him, but with green, lepisto, alzner, and carlsson in the works, having him will be good in the long run I think.

Murshawursha said...

Anyone else feel like Clarkie brings down whatever line he's playing on? I barely noticed Nyls and Flash out there, though I suppose that could be a product of not playing with Semin. But still...