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After losing two in a row in kind of stunning fashion, Adam Oates has changed up his lines for Saturday’s big game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Martin Erat is expected to be a healthy scratch, and Eric Fehr will make his first appearance since November 2nd.

Those lines, based on reports from Mike Vogel and the assumption that the 4th line will be unchanged:

Johansson – Backstrom – Ovechkin
Fehr – Grabovski – Brouwer
Chimera – Laich – Ward
Volpatti – Latta – Wilson

Martin Erat is the third-strongest forward when measured by both possession and on-ice goal percentage. This will be his first healthy scratch of the season. For the record, Troy Brouwer is the team’s weakest forward in possession– kind of stunning for a second-line player– but his goal percentage is even (7 goals for, 7 goals against) thanks to the team-high save percentage his goalies offer when he’s on the ice: .956.

The incredibly productive third line of Chimera-Grabo-Ward has been broken up, promoting Grabo to 2C in time for a game against the team that bought him out over the summer. Brooks Laich takes his place at 3c.

Returning Eric Fehr to the lineup is a welcome change, but at the cost of Martin Erat is …odd.

Your thoughts?

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  • Andy Wallace

    Can we return Fehr at the cost of Brouwer? Is that too mean?

  • Chris Cerullo

    The handling of Martin Erat by this coaching staff has been nothing short of horrendous and just a sign of pure stupidity. Frustrating.

  • Josh Carey

    Precisely zero people would be complaining if the second line was 10-84-16.

  • FoolsRushLandHannityIn

    Erat should not sit. Evidently Oates values Laich/Brouwer on PK more than Erat’s superior OZ puck possession. Very odd, indeed.

  • Jack Conness

    Breaking up the “3rd” line (which should be the 2nd) is mind-blowing to say the least. They, once again, played great last night and seem to play great together. WHY BREAK THEM UP?!?

    As I think everyone here has mentioned, Laich and Brouwer have been pathetic. So scratching Erat makes ZERO SENSE and makes me question what the hell Oates is thinking. I think you guys mentioned Erat is 3rd in possession for the Caps? They need him out there!

    I am happy to see Fehr back, but at the cost of Erat, it basically offsets each other. Laich and Brouwer are bums and need to get out of the lineup ASAP.

  • Jack Conness

    ZERO!

  • H70

    Erat out??? What the puck.

  • Jeff Yoders

    If it lights a fire under Erat I’m all for it. He’s had way too many bad games.

  • Redbird530

    Healthy scratch Troy Brouwer off the face of the Earth.

  • Denis Carmo

    Do you guys have the stats for Latta? (possession and shots) From what I’ve seen from him, I wouldn´t mind moving Ward and Chimera to the second line, placing Latta on the 3rd and sending either Laich and Brouwer (or both) to the 4th line

  • Jack Conness

    Are you watching the same games we are?

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    Welp.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I’d love that line

  • Matt

    Swap Erat with Brouwer and these lines are perfect.

  • Dark Stranger

    Agreed! And considering we gave up a good prospect (Forsberg) to get him to begin with makes it even worse

  • Shawn Murphy

    Special Saturday offer only! Demote at least TWO PLAYERS FROM YOUR NHL TEAM AND WE’LL THROW IN THIS FREE FEHR!

    limited time only super sale omg act nowwww

  • chris

    This is absolute garbage. If this doesn’t put the nail in McFail’s tenure nothing will. Essentially he’s traded FF for Latta. He traded Perreault for used pucks so Wilson could get 5 minutes a game. Brouwer and Laich are abysmal and clogging up 8.16 mill in cap space but he wouldn’t pay Semin. We have 4 guys on defense with less than 175 regular season games combined. Unacceptable asset management and team construction. Wake up, Ted. George is a baffoon and is wasting the prime years of a generational talent. Disgusting.

  • Boush

    This is almost what I wanted to happen…. just would have swapped out Fehr for Brouwer rather than Erat. Brouwer has lacked pouwer all season, and Erat really has not looked that bad.

  • chris

    So you know nothing about hockey. Good to know.

  • Jack Conness

    Yes.

  • Matt

    Wayne Gretsky would have a bad game with Laich and Brouwer on his line.

  • Scottay

    I heard some teams were interested in Erat. Maybe they`re considering trading him? That`s the only reason to sit him in my opinion…..could be a trade brewing.

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

    Erat getting scratched makes me wonder if he’s dealing with a nagging injury or something. Remember a few weeks ago when he was put on the fourth line just for that reason? The Caps don’t play again until Wednesday.

    Also taking a contrarian’s point of view, the Caps need both Brouwer and Laich to be playing well for this team to go anywhere in the playoffs. So keeping them in tonight and experimenting with the lines can’t really hurt. Remember, Laich barely skated at all during training camp and barely played last year. He needs to be challenged and get a bunch of reps to find his game again.

  • Graham Dumas

    Well, we do take an awful lot of penalties as a team… Perhaps a strong PK has some value.

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

    Though don’t get me started on their handling of Dmitry Orlov this season.

  • Chris Cerullo

    We’ve played 30% of the season. They are the 3rd and 4th leading forwards on this team when it comes to TOI/G (behind 8 and 19) which I believe is plenty of time to get challenged and back into the flow of things. Nothing is indicating whatsoever that Laich or Brouwer are turning a corner at least in my eyes. Maybe the move to 3C will be beneficial for Brooks but keeping Brouwer in a scoring role is just unacceptable at this point IMO. However, I can see where you’re coming from considering Erat and I may have overlooked a potential injury.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    verrrrryyyyy interesting

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I’ll have an update on Latta’s stattas tomorrow at noon in the snapshot.

  • Zach Evans

    In regards to lineup changes:

  • dylan wheatley

    i guess i just dont understand anything

  • Matt McNeely

    It seems, for all the world, that Adam Oates is deliberately doing things that don’t make sense specifically to confuse us and drive us all crazy. o.O

  • kemiisto

    The Caps need to buy out both Brouwer and Laich to go anywhere in the playoffs. I know I do exaggerate, but they both speak too much (and cost too much thanks to GMGM) and doing too little.

  • Dave

    You can always put the Ward Grabo Chimera line back together if it doesn’t work out. I’m not against trying to get more out of the second line, and worth trying Laich as 3C since he’s not playing like a 2C or 2Anything.

  • kemiisto

    Well known Hanlon’s razor reads “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” and my only hope is that it is me who is stupid and don’t understand these moves and not Oates who make them.

  • Bob

    i dont know what to think anymore

  • Matt

    Oates needs to go and Laviolette needs to come in. Of course he main problem here is McPhee but he’ll be a GM until he’s in his 80s.

  • John

    How many coaches do we have to go through until the owner figures out the real issue ?

  • Jonathan Kenny

    It is puzzling how/why Laich has gone from a consistent valuable contributor no matter what he was asked to play, to largely unproductive this year. He is a very good player with a great character. The five seasons before last year he averaged 20G and 27A per year. He even had 16G, 25A the year Hunter “coached.” So I am attributing his lack of production to the coaching staff right now. I am beginning to wonder if the issue with the team isn’t so much Oates as his assistants. I loved Calle Johansson as a player but is he a good asst. coach? anybody notice how Boudreau and his staff have the Ducks clicking?

  • Jonathan Kenny

    But i also feel McPhee has been inconsistent in his commitments with respect to trades. He gives up our most prized prospect (Forsberg) to attempt to advance in the playoffs last year but then he trades one of our best passing forwards (Perreault), who had improved each year, so that we can bring up young prospects. I was not happy that Hendricks wasn’t at least offered an extension and right now I would prefer that “easily replaceable grinder” over anybody on our fourth line.

  • cmdonohue

    Replace Brouwer with Erat and I’m good. Time to send Brouwer to the press box or elsewhere.

  • Ash

    Hendricks WAS offered an extension by the Caps. He confirmed that in an interview. However, with the salary cap being what it was, and the much richer contract in both dollars and term the Predators offered him, he took the one that was financially better for him, and who could blame him for that?

    However. Hendy is a great guy in the locker room, but giving him a four year 1.85 million dollar contract would not have been in the Capitals’ best interests, given the other number of middling to bad contracts they carry. (Check his stats with the Preds, too– he’s not lighting the world on fire, though I’m sure that’s in part due to his injury he sustained.) Both Wilson and Latta are young and going to have more upside than Hendricks, and I imagine Wilson will rise to a higher line and Latta is a solid piece for the lower two lines. Hendricks was great– but yeah, guys like him really are easily replaceable. Remember, he replaced Bradley. It’s a sad but inevitable cycle.

  • Brackaphobia

    This is ludicrous. But for arguments sake I will try to keep an open mind.

    Grabo to 2C could be good. More ice time but more importantly maybe he can make Brouwer better. Sure seems like he did that with Ward and Chimmer, though no doubt they have been working hard.

    The third line is like a sandwich with too much mayo: the middle is too soft. We’ll see if Brooks can step up I suppose. Or if Ward and Chimmer can make him look good.

  • JenniferH

    I was upset at first, but thinking on this, I can see some wisdom here. I think that Ward/Chimera are the magic together in the 3rd line. Grabo is more 2nd line than 3rd and the 3rd line was humming along nicely when Erat was there as well, so I do think that as long as Ward and Chimmy are together, it will still click. Laich has stated that he’s comfortable as a center, more comfortable as a center than as a wing so that could work out beautifully.

    Like Ian said, this could be a way of giving Erat some time off if he has a slight injury since they don’t play again until Wednesday. Brouwer and Laich are our strong PK players and we do take a lot of penalties; we NEED those PK players. Last season Brouwer was fantastic. And separated, maybe Brouwer will find his rhythm again. Playing with Grabo, who is more a 2nd liner rather than a 3rd liner could be the chemical click that gets Brouwer going. Playing opposite Ribs worked really well for Brouwer last season, maybe the same will work playing opposite Grabo. And Fehr can be fantastic, he could be the final ingredient that makes this 2nd line a scary one to play against.

    So, yes, I can see the wisdom here, and I’m choosing to be optimistic.

  • Rhino40

    Returning Eric Fehr to the lineup is a welcome change, but at the cost of Martin Erat is …odd.
    Your thoughts?

    EXACTLY

  • Rhino40

    Do that, and you’ll have to answer to the Brouwer Rangers…(jk)

  • Rhino40

    Sorry, but I respectfully disagree. Oates should at least get a full (and full-length season under his belt before we pass judgement.

  • bskillet

    Brouwer stays in Laich out, Ward, Chimmer, Grabo like it has been 3rd or 2nd. Fehr, Brouwer, Erat, 3rd or 2nd. Or Fehr moves up and Marcus with Troy and Martin.