Photo credit: Geoff Burke
Eric Fehr is awesome. We know this and he probably does too. Capitals head coach Adam Oates, however, took some time to come around. After trying Fehr out at center, among many other spots in the lineup, Oates benched Fehr for much of November. Since his return to the lineup November 23rd against Toronto, Fehr has nine points and five goals. He’s settled into a steady spot in the top six alongside Mikhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer.
“We don’t necessarily have one specific position,” Fehr told me of his linemates. “I think we move around well. We read off each other pretty well.”
Tonight, Fehr scored two more — sort of. It looked like he tallied a goal midway through the second period with the Caps on the power play. Fehr received a pass in the slot from Nicklas Backstrom — also red hot lately — before firing the puck on Rangers goalie Cam Talbot. The puck got by the rookie netminder initially and the refs ruled the play a goal. However, video review showed the puck never crossed the line.
Uno Seis, though, cannot be stopped. With the game tied 2-2 late in the third, he once again took a pass from Backstrom. This time, he beat Talbot blocker side. That was good enough for a Washington victory in Fehr’s 300th game with the Capitals.
“I was disappointed that the other one didn’t count, but it was nice to get that one at a good time,” said Fehr, who has registered points in three straight games.
Interestingly, the bulk of Fehr’s production this season has come his off wing. Oates, as you surely know by now, has a religious desire for players to skate on their natural wing. His lineup choices are often based on that view.
“He’s playing a position I don’t like,” Oates reiterated Friday night. “He’s handcuffed at times.”
Fehr, for what it’s worth, says the playing the off wing does bother him in the defense zone, but he doesn’t think it’s a real hindrance when attacking. If he does get hemmed in, Fehr told me his plan is just to “throw it out hard.”
Despite the position issue, Fehr has been able to keep the same spot for over a month. Other players on the Caps have usually played on the opposite side only as a temporary measure. Oates had a simple answer when I asked him why that was.
“It’s not gonna happen,” Oates said of moving him. “I need to get him on the ice.”
“He does good things every night,” the coach added.
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