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When the Capitals came out for warm-ups against New Jersey Friday, head coach Adam Oates had a surprise for us. Alex Ovechkin was skating on a line with Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb.
The Great Eight has struggled in the first three games this season, with no goals, 11 shots, and two checks on his own teammates. So Friday night he was back on left wing with Beagle (seven career NHL goals) as the pivot and Crabb (19 career NHL goals) on the right wing. I didn’t expect this trio to remain intact for very long, but despite taking some shifts with different teammates throughout the night, the line stayed together until the end.
After the game, Oates gave insight into why he put the three together.
“I wouldn’t call it the first line,” the coach told reporters after the 3-2 overtime loss to the Devils.
“It was more to give Jay and Crabber — Crabber played a lot of hockey games so he has some real good jump — just let them play with Ovi for 60 minutes so they could skate,” Oates continued, ostensibly speaking in English.
Said Oates of his is wacky lines: “The biggest thing we’ve been talking about is conditioning just so we have someone in the line that has total game shape.”
Will we see these three together again Sunday? Much like the Ovechkin on right wing experiment, I hope not.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.