Photo credit: Dave Sandford/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have a very busy week: four games in six days. As Alex Ovechkin returns to the line-up, Capitals head coach Adam Oates decided to shake-up his lines. The changes are drastic.

Via Adam Vingan, here are Oates’ new lines.

Brooks Laich – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Eric Fehr – Marcus Johansson – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Mikhail Grabovski – Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti/Martin Erat – Jay Beagle/Michael Latta – Tom Wilson

Thoughts:

  • A major shake-up to the lines seems bizarre to me considering the Capitals won both games without Ovechkin, scoring 9 goals and allowing just 2 against. Obviously, Ovechkin needs his spot back, but the changes here address much more than that.
  • Despite his chemistry with Nicklas Backstrom, Martin Erat has been demoted to the fourth line and Brooks Laich has been promoted to the first. Erat has 5 points in 7 games while playing in the Caps top-six. He had no points in 7 on the fourth line.
  • As Chris Gordon requestedEric Fehr was not banished back to the fourth line. Fehr, however, becomes the first player who will now play on his off-wing. Adam Oates had been adamant about keeping righties on the right side. The right-handed Fehr has been assigned to the second line as left wing.
  • Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer stay in the top-six despite a very unimpressive statline during the season’s first month. The duo combined for 3 even-strength points. More surprisingly, Laich is now on the first line. Perhaps Oates wants him to get his confidence back, reaping the benefits of playing alongside Nick and Alex. The promotion is undeserved.
  • The only line that didn’t change this morning was the trio of Jason Chimera, Mikhail Grabovski, and Joel Ward. Which is obvious. Since being together, the line has provided most of the team’s offense. In seven games together, Chimera has 4 goals and 5 assists, Grabovski has 2 goals and 5 assists, and Joel Ward has five goals (including his first career hat trick) and two assists. They are each averaging a point per game while playing together.

What do you guys think?

1:45 PM Update: According to Sky Kerstein, both Eric Fehr and Marcus Johansson saw time at center on the second line. The Caps’ Mike Vogel reports that Martin Erat was moved down to the fourth line because he’s banged up. Also, Adam Oates said after practice that the lines may not necessarily be the same tomorrow night.

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  • riggorules

    switch 10 and 21 and I’m pretty much OK with it … but Laich …. yeesh

  • Ned Belliveau

    10-19-8
    21-90-20
    25-84-42
    16-46-43

  • Ned Belliveau

    Also dump Volpatti, we don’t need a fight-first player

  • wood

    I dont think # 10 is going to like that too much either

  • Ben Reed

    PLUS 1: Laich and Brouwer finally separated!
    PLUS 1.5: Fehr in the top 6 (off-handed)!
    MINUS 1: Erat buried?

    Net: 1.5.

    Baby steps.

  • mariochalmers123

    I’m Steve Downie and I approve this message.

  • Super43

    “The promotion is undeserved” may be putting it too nicely. Erat proved his worth in the top 6 during his time there… as did Fehr. Why would one of the wingers who has shown nothing get a promotion

  • Brackaphobia

    I think that this is another “experiment.” Probably to bring Brooks’ confidence up. Another thing that tells us that this is temporary is that Fehr is playing off-wing, and AO has been obsessed with that not happening.

    Though Brouwer has not been earning a lot of points, he has had a decent net presence as of late which could compliment Mojo and Fehr well, probably.

  • Jenn

    I thought it was 90-16-20 so Fehr isn’t off wing but center

  • Ben Reed

    What about

    90-84-8
    10-19-16
    25-21-42
    20-46-43

    That fourth line BRUISES, dawg.

  • Brackaphobia

    Look at the article?

  • William

    #FREEMERAT

  • Troy

    All this nonsense about off-handed wing playing and Oates not liking it is such bull. Ovechkin ONLY SCORES ON THE POWERPLAY where he is, that’s right you guessed, ON HIS OFF-HANDED WING… offensive lines go off-handed on their wings, while defensive lines stay true. It’s pretty simple.

  • William

    I don’t understand why we would demote erat anyway, he’s played much better than laich has and is a more talented player in the first place.

  • William

    I Think Oates watches a different game then we do. I would Move Mojo to center on the second line, keep erat on the top line. Maybe put Brouwer and laich on the second line and then demote fehr back to the 4th line.

    Edit: spelling

  • dylan wheatley

    adam oates must know a lot more about hockey than i do because this looks dumb as hell to me

  • William

    Lines should be:

    O:

    10-19-8
    21-90-20/fehr
    25-84-42
    Random assortment/Latta/Fehr in the center

    D
    27-74
    81-52
    34-61

    Scratch Schmidt/1 extra fourth line forward

  • binky4norris

    Apparently Erat is banged up, that’s why less ice time tonight. Oatsie is watching the same hockey games that we are guys, no need to overreact.

  • Scott Mallon

    Erat Nicky Ovi
    Laich Mojo Brouwer
    Chimera Grabo Wardo
    Fehr Latta Wilson

    Scratch: Volpatti, Beagle

    …. I guess it’s just too simple and predictable for Oates. Laich is not a top line winger. He’s an energy guy with a higher-than-average Energy Guy’s scoring touch. 2nd Line winger is the highest he should be playing in my humble opinion. He’s a dynamite left winger.

  • Scott Mallon

    that was confusing.

  • Scott Mallon

    and i still like grabo on the second line but he’s money on the third with chimmer and wardo so keep it until we really need that extra touch on the 2nd line.

  • Pat

    Laich has been the worst player on the team ….

  • Pat

    well nvm… hes tied with Green

  • yv

    While Laich has not showed much during the games and looks slow on everything, the AO’ experiment with him probably stemming from what Laich has impressively demonstrating in SOs. And, hopefully, recalled (again) Orlov will, at-last, play tomorrow.

  • Matt

    If that’s true, then this makes a lot more sense.

  • Adam Stringham

    It’s time to bring back #freeErat

  • cgrman

    Do these line changes make sense from a defensive perspective? I agree Laich is not a top line forward offensively, but perhaps it makes sense to have him there to balance out Ovi’s defensive liabilities.

    I certainly do not agree with Erat on the fourth line, but does it make sense to swap him & Laich? How about moving Fehr to RW on the second line, move Erat to LW and demote Brouwer to LW on the fourth line?

  • VeggieTart

    What. The. HELL? Erat EARNED a place on the top line. At least Mojo was demoted.

  • VeggieTart

    I just hate scratching Volpatti, as the guy has really stood up for the team (as has Latta). I would have less of a problem scratching Laich.

  • VeggieTart

    Well, that’s an acceptable explanation for why he’s on the fourth line.

  • Pat

    Why the mojo hate? I think he’s been playing good lately. Not really a demotion imo, he looks more at home at center anyways. I like this move by Oates.

  • Sandra Dee Lee

    Just another nudge to Marty Erat that he would’ve been better just staying in Nashville, no matter how boring/old it might have made him feel.

  • William

    According to twitter Erat is actually banged up. I guess we can get off railing oates for a bit:)

  • William

    The problem with laich is that he’s somewhere between grinder and top 6 talent. He’s too talented to play in the bottom 6 but not quite talented enough to consistently play the wing with guys like Nicky and Mojo in the center.

  • scrubversive

    He’s trolling us, right? Please tell me this is just an elaborate off-day troll of the faithful by Adam Oates…

  • Matt

    Adam Vingan’s tweet said 90-16-20, implying Fehr at center.

  • Ash

    Man, I didn’t even have time to type up my outraged comment before Kerstein and Oates managed to reasonably explain why they were rolling these lines. Sheesh, Oates, way to make me waste my anger.

    …though, honestly, now I’m fretting about Erat and/or Holtby being banged up, which is a bit more of a thing to be concerned about than lines, I think.

  • Lawrence

    It’s hard to say how wrong the lines are yet, but I just don’t get what the caps see in Laich. If it were up to me, I would like to the see the lines like this:

    Wilson – Grabo – Ovi
    Erat – Backy – Fehr
    Brouwer – Jojo – Ward
    Volaptti – Laich – Latta

    Maybe swap Wilson with Brouwer, but I would like to see Wilson up there for a bit.

    Ah, one can dream.

  • Jenn

    Tweet he links to says 90-16-20

  • Myan

    how can he demote Erat to playing on the grind line again?! It’s proven that he can’t get anything playing 4th line minutes and that he’s a significant contributor when he’s a top 6 forward. Why would you give Laich a promotion when he hasn’t shown that he can make the most of his 2nd line minutes. Wasted minutes skating on that 1st line.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Hey, guys, according to 106.7 The Fan’s Sky Kerstein, Johansson and Fehr both centered that line at times during pratice. So who knows.

    https://twitter.com/SkyKerstein/status/397398119064666112

  • Dave

    I have a theory about this (based on no insight whatsoever):

    I think Oates has a bunch of line combinations he wants to try out, and he’s using the early part of the season to give each combination a shot for a few games to see how the chemistry develops. By mid-season, he’ll take what he learned and slow down the shuffling to let his favorite line combinations gel and be ready for the playoffs (assuming these line experiments don’t cost too many games in the meantime).

    In other words, I wouldn’t read too much into Erat’s position here. I’ll bet he gets another shot in the top 6.

  • Kev

    I dunno; he nailed a little MVP deal last year scoring quite a bit on his on wing.

  • Evan

    since the season is still young, I guess he’s just experimenting with some ideas rather than going straight for the obvious line combos. I wouldn’t have chosen the same combos as him, but maybe he has a hunch that other lines could work well too. Could try it for a few games, if it isn’t working he’ll reshuffle. I also think he’s giving Laich a final chance to prove himself better than a grinder before giving him some scratches. We’ll see!
    I’m no expert, but I’d go with:
    25-8-19
    10-90-20
    21-84-42
    24-46-43

  • Evan

    oops, forgot to squeeze Fehr in somewhere :/

  • Evan

    25-19-8****
    lol

  • Pat Magee

    We now have too much top 6 talent….. Trade MJ90 while he’s hot???

  • Jeremy

    Brooks Laich is undeserving, what do coaches see in him that everyone else doesn’t?

  • Steve Hickey

    The problem that I see with the emergence of players like Volpatti and Latta etc it for the first time in awhile makes struggling players like Laich and Brower more expendable. The fact that Laich and Brower are vets that have big payrolls makes this harder to stomach scratching multi million dollar guys. The moment we trade a Laich or Johansson away to another team and promote the Fehrs etc what happens when Fehr gets injured again or disappears for 30 or so games? Its tough to say but I defiantly don’t agree with placing Erat back on the 4th line assuming thats where he’ll stay for any reason.

  • Jeff

    1. Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Alex Ovechkin
    2. Martin Erat-Mikhail Grabovski-Eric Fehr
    3. Jason Chimera-Brooks Laich-Joel Ward
    4. Troy Brouwer-Michael Latta-Tom Wilson

    1. Karl Alzner – John Carlson
    2. Nate Schmidt – Mike Green
    3. Dmitry Orlov – Steven Olesky

    LTIR: J. Hillen, J. Erskine

  • Roman Z.

    Brouwer should be on the 4th line. He’s been invisible since the beginning of the season!

  • bskillet

    Well that looks like us missing out on 2 points, maybe it will change throughout the game but I can’t see Brooks on the top line. Laich is a good player but certainly hasn’t done enough this year yet to be on that line???

  • Rob Kenneth

    this team’s problem is definitely not ‘too much top six talent.’

  • Pat Magee

    Grabo, Fehr, Ovi, Nicky, Marcus, Brouwer, Erat, Wilson* = 8

    8>6

  • Troy

    Lol he did? Having those 16 PP goals and 8 tip ins, leaving 8 goals on his on-handed wing. I don’t remember any cycle plays last year leading to and Ovi goal on-handed wing side. His only goals on the RW were in the rush and everything else was still LW on the PP or set up plays.