Adam Oates is Changing Up Line Combinations


Quick update from Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where there appears to be changes for Friday morning’s practice. After seven games, Adam Oates has finally shifted up his lines. According to your boy Mike Vogel:

Or, in full text:

Johansson – Backstrom – Ovechkin

Erat – Laich – Brouwer

Chimera – Grabovski – Ward

Volpatti – Beagle – Wilson/Fehr

The top line is unchanged (despite Alex Ovechkin generating 70+% of its offense on his own). Martin Erat has been promoted to the second line, with Brooks Laich taking the center position. Grabovski, meanwhile, has dropped to the third line with the normal wingers there. I’m not 100% sure I understand Vogs’ syntax for the 4th line, but there’s Fehr and Wilson fighting for a spot on the right wing.

Your thoughts?

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  • Ben Reed

    Jesus, why is this so hard.


    Wilson to Plymouth.


    Play a righty on the left wing, GOD FORBID.

  • Todd N

    Still not sure why MJ90 is on the 1st line but this lines change is better than no change at all so i’ll take it. I’d prefer Erat on the 1st and knock everyone down

  • Super43

    Am I the only one that thinks Johansson needs to get bumped down if he is not bringing much to the first line. Also kind of shocked Gabbo is moved down to the third line, while Brooks slides over to center on the 2nd line.

  • Todd N

    You mean fehr and wilson fighting for spot on the right wing?

  • yes, fixed– sorry!

  • True or False: the third line is now better than the second line.

  • The move I’d like to see is Johansson off of the Ovechkin line. He’s a black hole.

  • Super43


  • Brandon Steele

    I am not the biggest Mojo fan either. He plays with two superstar players and does not produce nearly as much as he should. I’d like to see what Erat could do on that line.

  • So get this. Shot attempts by first line players during even strength:

    Ovechkin: 53
    Backstrom: 16
    Johansson: 6

    That’s 70.7% of the offense generated by Ovi and 8% by Mojo.

    Shot attempts aren’t EVERYTHING, and maybe Marcus is doing the stuff needed to get Ovi those shots, but it’s definitely an one-dimensional offense.

  • totally– just added a comment about that

  • Topher Gee

    2nd line looks like a give and go line… how happy would brouwer be! I was wondering why this couldn’t happen too.

  • Benjamin Scarbro

    I’m really intrigued by the Laich-Grabo switch…

  • Kyle Schoembs

    It’s better than nothing, but I say


    And hopefully see 43 in April

  • Super43

    I really thought something like this should have happened…


  • Aaron Yurkovic

    Im glad im not the only one that is tired of seeing MoJo on the first line. Defintely not doing first line work especially with ovi and backs. MoJo has been playing at a third line skill level if that

  • JH

    Aieee I’m so confused. Why put Grabo on the 3L? Why keep MoJo on the 1L? Why put Laich at Center?
    MoJo should play center on a lower line. Laich should stay at wing, imho. But whatever – the lines needed some shaking up. Will be interesting to see the shot differential per line (someone can do that, right?)….
    Bottom line, I’m sort of like, what good news / what bad news. But willing to see how this develops.

  • Topher Gee

    pretty close tie… That’s not a bad thing right?!

  • H70

    Why is Fehr on 4th? He has actually been shooting…

  • JH

    It’s like Backstrom and MoJo were told not to shoot but feed everything to Ovi or they were going to be waterboarded. I was at the Rangers game and they’d have clear opportunities to put the puck on goal, and yet they would STILL try to feed to Ovi, even if he was covered.
    I mean, I GET that you want to put pucks on the stick of the best player in the league as much as possible (which I’m sure Oates has been emphasizing) but that shouldn’t mean you should shut down the rest of the line! Ye gods….

  • Zank

    that second line looks awful soft to me

  • Peteo

    Adding one more voice to the Move MJ90 Down chorus. I’d rather have him back at center on some line because I feel like he’ll be a low SOG black hole if he’s a wing anywhere except on 4. But then, he doesn’t really fit as C on lines 2 through 4 either.

  • Working under righty-left limitations, I’d go

    Erat – Backstrom – Ovi
    Laich – Grabo – Fehr
    Johansson – Fehr – Brouwer
    Chimera – Beagle – Volpatti

  • H70


  • JH

    Um, you have Fehr twice…. Where’s Ward?

  • Benjamin Scarbro

    [Begin Brouwer Rangers Troll Thread/]

  • Steve Hickey

    Where does the beloved Ward fit in there?

  • Hmmm. I might be making some.. errors.

  • Wilson on the Mayflower to Plymouth?

  • DUDE!

    I double-shifted Fehr in my first draft, but once I re-did it, Brouwer got promoted back to 2RW!

  • Super43

    I am open to suggestions, and I realize I don’t know nearly as much as the coaches do. But someone needs to go on that first line to generate offense. Ovi is having a monstrous season, but he cannot maintain this 1 man show and not get completely smothered moving forward.

  • Chris

    Mojo brings nothing, he should be a scratch

  • mariochalmers123


  • yup– I think he’ll be done for the year after CBJ

  • Tom Martin

    You know what makes these lines a lot better/simpler……MP85.
    Something like
    These are very good lines, IMO

  • Benjamin Scarbro

    [/End Brouwer Rangers Troll Thread] 🙁

  • Beans

    90 NEEDS TO MOVE DOWNNNNNNNNNN. 3 SHOTS this entire season.. 3!! and 19 barely shoots already they make that line completely one dimensional with Ovi the only one willing to shoot the biscuit. 90 needs to move down to 2 or 3 and 10 or 84 move up to 1

  • PetePetePete

    Is there an argument for keeping Mojo on 1st line?

  • Josh Carey

    I’m sure Mojo has one. Anyone else? Not likely

  • mariochalmers123

    Can anybody explain why Erat was EVER on the fourth line? Even plausible speculation would make me happy.

  • He might be good at carrying the puck in from neutral and getting passes to Ovi. I don’t have the data to confirm that.

  • Josh Carey

    Yeah uhh…uhhh. *shrugs*

  • Benjamin Scarbro

    Alz-Carlson; Schmidt-Green; Erskine/Urbom-Oleksy. Thoughts on Defensive pairings or are we only concerned about SCOAR MOAR GOALS?!!!!!!!!1!!1!!!!

  • Over_head

    I am not a fan of Grabovski on the third line and I am not a fan of MJ90 on the first line. That being said I really have no idea which line combo’s I like. I just sit and stare at the names and can’t come up with anything. It reminds me of having a bunch of puzzle pieces laid out that all are from different puzzles. They all fit somewhere, but they do not fit together here.

  • scrubversive

    Agree on both points. MJ90 needs to prove he’s not a passenger and he won’t do that next to 8 and 19.

    I’m vexed by the 84 move. At least Laich has been here so we have an idea of how he’d be centering Line 2. Why not juggle Grabbo’s partners first and find out more about our new acquisition before putting him on the 3rd (something something toronto maple leafs).

  • Chris Cerullo

    Brooks Laich is on the 2nd line because he is a David Backes/Mike Richards hybrid remember? The fact that he really isn’t a top 6 player will never be let go by this management.

  • Ryan Glynn

    in my opinion (not that it matters what some fan thinks) but i have two edits to these new lines. either 1.) switch chim and erat. or 2.) switch laich and grabo.

  • Speculation:
    To help ease Tom Wilson into NHL play?
    To not insult Brooks Laich (and his long-term contract) with a demotion?
    Bad conditioning?
    Personality conflicts?

  • CSA

    Switch up the forward lines anyway you like. If we don’t get the defensive zone figured out as well this team is going nowhere.

  • DC Hockey Nut

    This has been a problem with Backstrom in particular for years. I’ve screamed at my TV so many times when 19, having a crystal clear shooting lane, and being in a high-percentage scoring area, just does not shoot the puck and instead passes it to Ovie who’s either A) covered, or B) isn’t in a good position to shoot and ends up coughing up the puck. Ovie can shoot, but he’s godawful at holding on to the puck when in the offensive zone except on the powerplay.

  • Graham Dumas

    I really like Wilson, but I want him to get minutes. And not in the penalty box! Kid’s got the wrong idea that the only way to prove himself is with his (not inconsiderable) fighting prowess. Plymouth it is!

  • Todd N

    true. but at least score some goals…Rangers came in giving up avg of 5 goals a game. and we came up with ZIP!!

  • VeggieTart

    I agree, but who would play in his place? And I assume this means Wilson is being sent back to OHL?

  • If he needs to get 12 minutes against Columbus on his way out, that’s fine by me.

  • JH

    Czechs and Russians on the same line don’t mix (something to do with sore feelings for 1968?)

  • Chris

    I’m saying screw Adam Oates’ stupid obsession with righties and lefties. He’s forcing players into his system instead of building a system around his players, which is only magnified by general manager George McPhee’s inability to build a solid team (nice trades, you dolt). He has handcuffed Oates into using wingers as centers.

    16-19-8 : Eric Fehr is currently 3rd in shots for forwards. Let Backstrom feed him and Ovechkin the puck.

    90-84-20 : Since Mojo doesn’t like to shoot, he can setup MiG84 and Brouwer.

    10-21-42 : Here’s your lunch pail line. Time of possession and cycle the boards.

    25-83-43 : I think Wilson should stay, he brings more to the lineup than Volpatti and has generated 8 shots in his limited playing time. He’s also the ONLY physical presence on this roster.

  • SupremeLeader

    This is good but it should be Erat, Grabs, Brouwer 2nd line
    3rd – Fehr – Laich – Ward
    4th – Chim – Beags – Wilson/Volpatti

  • Matt Zarbatany

    So, our first line left wing has had 6 shot ATTEMPTS in 7 games? I can’t believe he’s not being demoted at this point, other than because of Oates OCD of righty/lefty. I’m as frustrated with Mojo on line 1 as I am/was with Erat on the 4th, maybe even more so.

  • SupremeLeader

    Peter, great lines, totally agree with the top line – but IMO, Laich hasn’t been up to speed with his game. Yes, it takes time to get back into NHL pace after consecutive injuries, but he probably should be on 3rd or 4th until he starts to click again. He’s good and has potential, we know that, but I think Wilson would benefit from having him on a line as a closer mentoring figure, and when Laich gets out-hustled, Wilson and Beagle (who we know works hard) can cover for him. Laich just does not need high minutes right now.

  • mariochalmers123

    1 and 2 seem possible, but then why still keep Erat on the bench for the PP? He’s clearly a PP-caliber player on the Caps (even if second-unit) but I don’t think he’s out there much.

    Just weird. Maybe it was bad conditioning.

  • Owen Johnson

    Part of that though was we couldn’t get out of our own zone. Offense stank, but the defense didn’t even allow the stinky offense to do anything.

  • Owen Johnson

    Don’t really understand Fehr being demoted, since after Ovechkin, he’s been the only guy I can think of generating offense. But at this point ANY change is good.

  • JessHughes

    I note that if you are eagerly Vogs’ daily tweet of the Caps line combos (and I do), you likely don’t need the text translation of the sweater numbers to names. All I can say is, it’s a start, anyway. Erat on the 4th line @ $4.5M was killing me.

  • Owen

    So exactly what has Erat done to deserve being bumped up to the second line?

  • He’s a good (but un-flashy) player historically. You can’t use his limited minutes/weak linemates this season as a reason to keep him there– that’s a clear bias.

  • JH

    You don’t play someone on a higher line just because they’re making X dollars vs. Y. That’s plays into the “sunk cost fallacy” (see, ie, the price paid for a player should be irrelevant to which line they play – it’s an economic principle. Anyway, Erat was killing me on the fourth line because the guy is a LW shooter. He should be on a line where he’s best positioned to help the team scoar moar goals.

  • JessHughes

    Totally agree with
    you. I am well aware of the sunk cost
    principle. Certainly once Oates has the
    guys he has, he has to deploy them in the best way possible to win hockey
    games, regardless of salary. I was
    awkwardly trying to short hand my concern that we had acquired a $4.5M back up
    to Laich, in case he was unable to go. I
    was a defender of the Erat & Latta for Forsberg trade, on the theory that
    we needed more proven production (and a better possession guy) than we
    currently had on the roster. I just think
    – like you do – that Erat’s talents are being wasted on a grinder 4th
    line getting almost no TOI. I do worry
    about Leonsis and GMGM’s history of handing out large contracts to non-Top 6
    players (see: Chimera, Ward, and Erat?)
    and to non-Top 4 defensemen (see: Poti,
    Erskine). Basically, it’d be nice if we
    didn’t have to have sunk cost discussions on hockey blogs. But no matter what, Go Caps!!! Scoar Moar Goals! (Have the RMNB t-shirt to
    prove it).

  • JH

    LOL and agree!

  • Matt

    Good, but not good enough. I doubt Grabo stays long at 3c, and if the top line doesn’t start producing, then I doubt Mojo stays up there long too. My preferred combos would be:

  • Trites86

    84 – 19 – 8
    10 – 21 – 20
    90 – 16 – 42
    25 – 83/46 – 43

  • Red

    Typical Caps mismanagement. One step forward, two steps back. Are they doing this on purpose?

    Erat to the top 6: Yes! Finally! Took long enough…

    Graby bumped down to 3rd: Wait, WHAT?! And I haven’t even been drinking…Ok, lets calm down, if he’s paired with Fehr maybe it’s not a total loss. OMG! Wardo and Chimmy?? I am Misha’s raging bile duct.
    Mojo still on first line: Seriously? Ok, Backy doesn’t shoot anymore, I’ve accepted that fact, even though it still boggles the mind; he’s got a fantastic shot. But our top line cannot possibly be composed of just one offensive threat. Nicky has the softest mittens in business and he will get the puck where it needs to be, but for the love of Jebus, give Ovi a linemate who can take a shot on goal once in a while! What the hell is the statute of limitations on proving you’re worth a damn anyway?

    I need to go do some breathing exercises…

  • capsjazz

    GET MARJO OFF THE TOP LINE, and if possible BENCH HIM ENTIRELY. He gets blown off the puck by an opposing player’s sneeze, for crying out loud!

  • cwilk08

    Fehr’s getting moved bakc and Chimmer’s staying on 3rd line? no..

  • Matt Lauer

    I concur wholeheartedly.

  • Matt Lauer

    Crazy thought:

  • Rob Kenneth

    This team has (had?) a golden opportunity to capitalize on the fresh energy and drive of newcomers Grabo and Erat after their offensive talent was mostly squandered on their respective former teams. But exiling to the bottom 6 two players who seemed to be champing at the bit to finally do their thang is gonna do nothing to invigorate their performance. (I don’t like speculative layman sports psychology analysis but 90% of the game is half mental, and regardless, by any objective standard these are not 3rd and 4th line skaters.)

  • Rob Kenneth

    Why not put McPhee on one of the lines? After all, he seems to know f**king everything about hockey. Even Fat Ted could probably pick up a few minutes on the 4th line; how much harm could it do on a team with “no problems.”

  • bskillet

    Put Fehr on the 1st line, move Marcus to the 3rd line with Jason and Erat, and have the 2nd line as Laich, Brouwer and Grabovski. Wilson, Beags and Aaron on the 4th. Anyway see what happens with what he’s got but he should keep changing them up until something works.

  • Jonah

    i think they should have traded mj90 instead of MP.
    so it would look like
    remember the 16-85-42 line was really really good at forechecking and OZ possesion at the end of last year regular season?