The New Old Capitals Lines

Ovi shoots - Dave Reginek

Photo: Dave Reginek

Friday night’s win over Detroit Red Wings was made possible by a late-game Alex Ovechkin goal assisted by Marcus Johansson. Johansson hadn’t been on the top line since November 1st in Philadelphia, when Alex Ovechkin missed games due to an upper-body injury. When Ovechkin returned on the 5th, Martin Erat had taken Mojo’s spot on the top line, and Marcus centered Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer on the second. That formulation yielded good possession for the top line, but garbage for the second and goals for pretty much no one (I recommend Kevin Klein’s article on this topic over at Japers’ Rink).

Coach Adam Oates tweaked his lines late in the game on Friday to much success, and it looks like those changes will stick. Per The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera, here’s how lines look on Saturday morning:

Marcus Johansson – Nick Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Martin Erat – Brooks Laich – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Mikhail Grabovski – Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti – Michael Latta – Tom Wilson


  • Johansson is back at left wing on the top line. You probably already know what I think, so I wanna know your thoughts.
  • Despite Michael Latta scoring the tying goal (his career first) while centering Chimera and Ward, the third line is unchanged.
  • That shouldn’t surprise  us– the Chimera-Grabo-Ward line shall remain unmolested until they stop spawning goals like fish eggs.
  • Brooks Laich has shifted from left wing back to second line center, which is where we thought he’d be until McPhee signed Grabo.
  • The fourth line has been stout (though they were in their own end a lot on Friday), and they too remain unchanged.
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  • Sean

    Ovechkin’s ES production hasn’t been anywhere near what it should be the past couple years. Johansson has been decidedly the best player at feeding Ovi at even strength, so I’m glad that line is back together. And it’s not as if Erat was tearing it up on line 1 or Johansson was able to spark Brouwer or Laich.

  • nogoodtrying

    I like it but with one exception. I’d make the third line the second line.

  • Graham Dumas

    I’m also equivocal about MJ90 on the top line. He feeds very well, and that play in OT against Columbus showed me he has some physical potential on O. But last night when he didn’t shoot on the empty net in the 3rd on the PP…

    But I also like the way Erat’s been playing. Wonder how he might do with Grabo…

    Part of my problem in gauging the performance of any player is that, like most humans, my ability to aggregate games-worth of data is very limited without recourse to numbers, which I don’t always understand. I’m also hobbled by my overwhelming desire to see this team succeed. And so I’m heavily influenced by small positive moments by any player in the most recent one or two games. I feel like the hockey-parent of each of the somewhat underachieving guys on the team…


  • Graham Dumas

    I’ve said the same thing before, but do we really think those guys can hang as a second line? What’s wrong with having a third line that can score and grind? I feel like that’s almost more of a threat.

  • RESmith

    The distinction between the 2nd & 3rd line may only be nominal. It seems Chimera-Grabo-Ward get as much, if not more, ice time as the Laich-Brouwer line does. At least, over the past several weeks.

  • dylan wheatley

    i prefer my mojo at center than on the wing

  • JH

    Isn’t Mojo a better center than Laich? And isn’t Erat a better winger than Mojo?

  • nogoodtrying

    I was thinking they’d earned the increased ice time, but someone said something about the difference between 2 and 3 has been nominal so I suppose you’re right. Serious lack of chemistry between Laich, Brouwer, and both other options though. Maybe give Fehr a shot on that line in place of…someone???

  • Graham Dumas

    Fehr in for Brouwer, at least for a couple of games. Maybe a couple of “safer” games after the Blues and Pens.

  • William

    *Grinds teeth Equivocally*

  • Owen Johnson

    Mojo has had a renaissance playing the 2C. Never liked him on the opposite wing from Ovi.

  • Jack Conness

    I like these lines but I’m with you. Not a huge MoJo fan. I hope the Caps make a big deal for a Top 6 forward or D-man.

  • cmdonohue

    So Brouwer was pretty awful last night. As this season continues, I’m slowly getting over Brouwer. I think I’d rather Fehr play with Laich and Erat. Brouwer can be bumped down or bumped off all together.

  • Freedoooom

    I’m pretty sure Laich didn’t even make a tape to tape pass through 2 periods last night.

  • johnnymorte

    Grabo and Erat ultimately belong on the second line when the hot streak for this third line is over, They are two solid possession players.

  • Barrett


    I like Mojo on the top line. Those three are the top power play unit. Let them figure out their ES issues. Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich have been terrible this year. I like ke the way Fehr plays. Brouwer, as big as he is, seems to always play small. The lack of centers keeps Laich on 2nd line. If Adam Oates touches the third line he should be fired. The fourth line should be used to shuffle the remaining players. Keep Brouwer there or in street clothes until he gets his head out of his ass.

  • prettygood

    I can’t figure out what these coaches are watching. The 2nd line has been awful, they’ve gotta make a change somewhere. Bench someone, bump someone, anything.

    I like Mojo on the first line, yeah, he played better at center, but Erat wasn’t working on the top line. Maybe with time, it would have, who knows.

  • StarkOrange

    Funny to see how many people that don’t like Mojo on the top line with Ovi. When Erat was there, the line went without ES production for several games and on the first shift back with Mojo they score. How can you not like that? The Johansson haters seriously need to drop it as he clearly have chemistry with Backstrom and Ovechkin.

    The second line will suck as long as it consists of both Brouwer and Laich, no matter who the last player is. We can either have both our top and second line produce nothing at ES, or we can have Mojo with Ovi and at least have a good top line.

  • I like that the top line with Mojo scored, but the line put more shots on goal (and allowed fewer against) with Erat up there instead. I think a top line with Erat is more likely to score goals than one with Johansson.

  • Mica smar

    Mojo is wasted in the center on the second line if he has only Brouwer and Laich to work with. Scratch Brouwer, center Mojo with Fehr and Laich, or hell, try WIlson and ditch Laich to fourth line.