perreault with kids

Any excuse to post a photo of Perreault (Photo courtesy of the Caps)

This California road trip comprises the most important week of Washington Capitals’ season. Tonight at 10 PM, the Caps will face Bruce Boudreau, Mathieu Perreault, and the Anaheim Ducks. When that happens, Jay Beagle will be on the first line and Dustin Penner will be on the fourth.

Here are the lines, per the inestimable Katie Carrera of the Washington Post:

Johansson – Beagle – Ovechkin
Kuznetsov – Backstrom – Brouwer
Chimera – Fehr – Ward
Penner – Wellman – Wilson

This is a bit odd, though maybe it’s not so dire.

First, from Katie:

Dustin Penner played over 100 games for the Ducks in his career, 49 of them this season under Bench Boss Bruce Boudreau. He’s primed to play 7-9 minutes tonight.

Evgeny Kuznetsov has basically taken Penner’s spot and will occupy the left flank on the second line.

And Jay Beagle is centering the Caps top line. Beagle has been scratched 19 times this season and has cracked 15 minutes twice.

After a quick scan of my notes, the last time Alex Ovechkin and Jay Beagle started together on the top line was against the Maple Leafs on January 31, 2013. Ovi shared about 10 of his 16 5v5 minutes with Beagle that night and got out-attempted 22 to 8. It wasn’t pretty.

If the Capitals could sweep this week, they’ve reinvigorate their playoff chances. Yet, it appears Adam Oates has paired the best scorer in the league with the team’s weakest available possession forward.

Katie Carrera explores Oates’ strategy in the Post today, and it seems that Oates will be experimenting a fair bit.

So this should be interesting.

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  • Chris Cerullo

    Why is Penner-Mojo-Ovi so hard to do? I guess maybe because Mojo loses a lot of faceoffs?

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

    I love the D pairings. Let’s focus on the positives!

  • Tom Martin

    MP85…..ugh that stings

    ps: how badly could we use him right now. ugh. terrible.

  • Nathan Olmstead

    What I’d do… but what do I know?
    Kuznetsov-Backstrom-Ovi
    Penner-Mojo-Brouwer
    Chimera-Beagle-Ward
    Fehr-Wellman-Wilson

    Mojo and Beagle could be switched, too.

    Thoughts?

    I mean, I guess it doesn’t matter since Oates doesn’t care about chemistry and just switches the lines every shift.

  • Luis Riveros

    Bring back Oleksy! He’s been gone far too long!

  • DashingDave314

    At least Wey’s getting playing time.

  • Jeff Fairchild

    How about Penner-Fehr-Ovi? I’d like to see that. Beagle should be with Chimmer and Ward.

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

    I guess Carrick is gonna take a seat?

  • Nathan Olmstead

    I think he deserves it.

  • Daniel Walker

    Penner on the 4th? It seems to me that Oates’s go to move when a new player comes to this team is to alienate them as much as possible.

  • Rob W.

    For the love of god Grabo please come back, beagle on the top line is just so depressing. Penner on the 4th line is typical Oates, first erat now him. Why would any top 6 free agent forward want to play for Oates?

  • Simonezero

    I used to think Oates had something up his sleeve with Erat being on the 4th for so long. I don’t know if I trust this line play anymore, however these days I’m more impressed with our forwards so there’s that. I just hope the 4th line doesn’t get terrible 4th line minutes.

    Also, I miss MP85, will be fun to watch.

  • Luis Riveros

    Carrick is gone woooooooooooohoooooooo!!

  • Stardawg

    Unless its a goaltender, then he just hands over the number one and tells Holtby to F*** off

  • DashingDave314

    I guess so. About time he does, and I’m a huge fan of Carrick. He’s going to be great. He’s just not NHL ready yet. To be fair, how many 19 year olds are NHL ready?

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

    Katie also reported that Halak will get the start, which makes his 387th consecutive start.

    https://twitter.com/ngreenberg/status/446000056156426240

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

    Yeah, I’m not ready to write him off yet.

  • DashingDave314

    Should have stayed in Hershey all season.

  • Chris Cerullo

    He has been absolutely awful in Hershey

  • Alicia

    This should be interesting. I am very excited because I will be there tonight and I will rock the red.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Love is going a little to far IMO but I like them better than what we’ve seen before

  • Shaun Phillips

    That’s even worse in the faceoff circle.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I also think breaking up the 3rd line is the last thing that needs to happen on this Western swing

  • DashingDave314

    Don’t be mad at the lines, you know Oates will change them midway through the game, using his random line generator of course.

  • Owen Johnson

    Matty P :(

  • Pat Magee

    We’re gonna get like 5 shifts of Ovi-Beags and He’ll put Nicky back with the OV. Not even worried…….

  • Pat Magee

    Splitting up Carlzner is seriously the only way to have a good mix of talent in the top 4. The Alzner-Green pairing worked pretty damn well, and Carly can be paired with Orlov.

  • Ovix8

    Backstrom needs ovi usually but he might be fine with kuzya but they should all be on a line together whats so hard about that

  • bggb

    your faith in this man is confusing.

  • bggb

    That seems like a logical deployment of talent and ability.

    In other words, no chance.

  • bggb

    Someone fire these a holes. Please.

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

    No, really. Love. For this team, the players they have, I think this is as optimal as the pairings can be and that’s what you’re looking for. I’d prefer probably having Carlson with Hillen, Alzner + Green, and Wey + Orlov together, but this is good enough. Offensive weapon + stay at home type. Wey is probably the most steady defensive prospect they have.

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

    I’m gonna reserve prejudice for now. Oates says he’s gonna go crazy shaking em up mid-game; I’ll look for it.

  • DashingDave314

    Strongly agree on Wey. Should have been up instead of Carrick.

  • Owen Johnson

    That may SOUND logical, but what hand do these players shoot with, HUH?

  • Jonathan Kenny

    This is positively Oates overanalyzing something that should be pretty basic. In other words–it’s positively stupid. Penner on the 4th line is as big a waste as Erat on the 4th line. The bottom line here is that the Caps coaches, at this time of the season fighting for an 8th seed with only 13 games to go, cannot be in a “Let’s experiment with these lines”mindset. If you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s probably too late (unless Columbus or NYR just collapse). Going against three of the best teams in the West and Oates decides it’s time to put Beagle as his top-line center again?!? McPhee didn’t trade for 6’4″ 247lb Penner’s 13G/19A to try and boost the 4th line. Mike Knuble had six straight seasons of 24 or more goals and was then dropped down to the 4th line and lit the lamp only 6 times. What does that tell you? I hope Beagle has learned a thing or two since his last outing n the top line.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I think I just don’t like Jack Hillen.

  • bggb

    Amazing that virtually the only thing he hasn’t tried is putting a player who’s spent years playing on one of the best lines in the league (penner), on a top line with his best two players.

  • Pat Magee

    I have faith he can ruin this team.

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

    If Penner is already in Oates’ doghouse, he’s probably never getting out.

  • Jon A

    I’m liking the changes in D pairings too. I’m also loving that Backstrom will be feeding Kuzya, who most teams still won’t be able to predict at all yet.

  • meow

    It seems like what may be going on is players are being penalized for not buying into his system. They could be great and producing, but if it isn’t the way he wants, he punishes them or “puts them down to learn and observe.” There has to be some rational here.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I always wonder if a RMNB consensus based coaching staff could create a better lineup to suit Oates’ system and maybe have a better record.

  • Yo8

    What does fucking Oates have against playing Ovi and Kuznetsov in the same line?! I’m getting tired of his shit!

  • Steve Killmon

    Pulling on my heart strings with the Matty P pic, guys.

  • Ian

    Oates should read up.

  • Mark Mille

    You know what I see? I see depth. I see placing Backy on the second line to boost Kusnetsov’s chances. I see Mojo acting like a playmaker on the top line. I see out awesome third line and I see a decent power forward player for Wilson to learn from. I don’t like Penner on the fourth line but he’s giving Wilson some good chances.

  • RV

    I imagine this really means nothing. The random line generator will start about 2 shifts into the game. That being said, the forward combos I would love to see together are:

    Penner-Backy-Ovi
    Mojo-Kuzya-Wilson
    Chimer-Wellman-Ward
    Fehr-Beags-Brouwer

  • yv

    Considering the stingy opposition, looks like with such lines Oates preparing, at-last, to win a low-scoring game when Caps score less than 3 goals and he emphasizing more on defensive plays. Beags will hustle back and forth and will win FOs, while Majo will continue to set up Ovi and shoot occasionally. Maybe not so bad, considering that Nicky and Ovi not producing at all for some time, while allowing goals at ES in every game. Bruce did it many times. Second line looks now potent and ready to see first Kuzya’s goal. Despite JP now in 4th line, he seeing time in PPs, so his TOI shouldn’t be too bad. It would be interesting to see how it will turn out tonight.

  • Bugs Fire

    While you vocabulary is regrettable, I do share the sentiment. In Toronto game things were going well pretty much anytime Kuzya touched the puck. Yes, this maybe because scouting report on him is incomplete, but that did not stop Oates from exploiting Grubauer. Kuznetsov is a playmaker, and putting him on the same line with Backstrom defies common sense.

  • dylan wheatley

    wasnt beags originally kept in the lineup by hunter because he won faceoffs?

  • Bugs Fire

    Wait, I thought Penner was going to be the net-crashing presence on the first line? Oh, well. Pancakes will not stay once season is over anyway.

    Once you look closer at these lines, they are not the worst. Yes, Beagle on top line makes zero sense (no disrespect). But Grabo is out, and the only option other than Backstrom is Kuzya, which of course will never happen, because blah blah blah.

    The second line has a lot of potential. Kuzya and Backstrom are naturally awesome in any weather, and Brouwer is on hot streak right now. While Brouwer’s newly found hotness may be due to PP and generosity of others, it’s still hot because Erat.

    It is well established that this ChiFeWar line is the most consistent part of this squad whole season (other than 8-bearing line of one). Maybe it’s because 2/3 of it have played together this whole time. Oh well.

    Fourth line is basically “whatever is left after me puts together three lines”. I would almost suggest switching Penner and Marcus, except that Johansson is not much of a checker.

  • J

    At first glance I read this as:

    Oates Will Experiment Like California: Beagle on Top, Penner on Bottom.

    Only had a word different, but for a second I thought RMNB started posting a very different kind of article…

  • JH

    It is unfortunate that at this juncture of the season, where every game is critical, we are still playing musical chairs with the lines. I get it – Laich and Grabo are out with injuries, Kuzya magically dropped from the sky, and Penner is a new addition as well. But Beagle (and Lord knows Ilike Beags) on the first line is eye-popping stuff.

    I think you want your bestest playmaker on the line with your very top sniper. That would be 19 + 8 every.damn.game. I’m echoing other comments but why on earth wouldn’t he put Penner on the top line with Backstrom and Ovi.
    1L: Penner-Backstrom-Ovi

    Then have MoJo center the second line. MoJo is great at carrying the puck into the zone with speed, and is a good playmaker. He’d be better as a 2C. But maybe (and I haven’t analyzed this, just speculating) he doesn’t have the chops to be effective on the defensive side as a Center. Kuzya at 2L, Brouwer at 2R.
    2L: Kuznetsov-MoJo-Brouwer

    Keep third line intact, have Beags and Wilson and whoever on the fourth. Just makes sense to me, but what do I know….

  • Perreault fan

    I miss Perry.

  • Austin

    *Prepares self for Oates random line generator*

  • Hockey mom

    For anyone who cares, the “magic phone” generated the following numbers today: 25, 20, 17…Now, someone has to tell those guys that they have fulfill the scoring “prophecy”! HA!!

  • riggorules

    Hunter or Oates at this point? Sad it’s even debatable.

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

    I’d take Hunter. Hands down. No hesitation.

  • James Hare

    It all starts with getting rid of Bruce for no reason. I’m not sure this team could ever win it all with Hunter Hockey but at least Hunter gave the team an identity. I don’t know if this is all Oates’ fault but somebody has to answer for this. Either we’ve got the wrong talent to make Oates’ system work or Oates’ system doesn’t work. One of the two has to be true and Ted needs to decide what he believes.

  • James Hare

    Destroying Holtby’s confidence has to be some kind of strategy! Maybe we’re just trying to make some Canadian team so angry at how we’re treating him they’ll pay to get him back home?

  • Roy Schue

    Holtby is a big boy and knows how the business works…his confidence is and will be fine

  • Eric Schulz

    No debate. The bad thing about this team is that, when we’re up, I get flashbacks to Hunter… Oates is better.

  • Eric Schulz

    It wasn’t no reason… supposedly, he lost the locker room. If true, I don’t care how good of a coach you are, a change has to be made; see: Andy Reid, Philadelphia.
    I’m not sure I buy that he lost the locker room, but in this case, I know that I truly have no idea… so, w/e.

  • Eric Schulz

    I take Oates, hands down, no hesitation. The agony of being up and turtling? Losing leads ALL THE TIME because we stop attacking? Yeah, that’s vintage Hunter. At least we only have done it for about half of Oates’ tenure (granted, the latter half), we did it 100% of Hunter’s. Ovechkin is NOT a 3rd liner; he should get more than 12 minutes a game.
    Oates is playing guys like Erat and Penner on the bottom-6; Hunter used Ovechkin as a DH. Granted he was great at it… but he’s better as a 1st liner; just my opinion.

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

    But the Caps have lost leads more often under Oates than Hunter. You’re certainly right that the Caps went in protect mode more when they’re up under Hunter, but they were a better team when the game was close.

  • Joey Doukmetzian

    switch kuzya and penner. beags and fehrsie. and wilso and brouwer

    boom

  • poodlewoof

    I’d love to see another 24/7 with Oates as coach. I’m not sure how revealing that would actually be, but love him or hate him, while you occasionally see the emotion of the game in his comments, he is always professional in his critique of his players, even if he plays someone else the next game.

    I’m a fan of Holtby, and perhaps this is anecdotal, but I recall Oates giving him starts after bad blowouts or even after getting pulled. That said, Oates seems to ride “success” (defined by whatever metrics he applies) as the “three goalie” stretch would indicate. Grubi wasn’t winning a ton of games, but he was keeping them closer or at least, less at fault for the loss. At any rate, it would be fascinating to see some of the “backstage” interaction.

  • Jonah

    its our faith that nothing will stop oates from breaking out the RNG for the lines by the end of the 1st, peter can you make that a shirt?

  • Jonah

    no way on the breaking up the 3rd line
    chimmer-fehr-wardo is gold
    also kuzya-mojo/grabo(if healthy)-willy
    penner-backstrom-ovi
    whatever we have left for the 4th
    logical, using our talent, and concise. so it’ll never happen

  • Jonah

    switch brouwer and wilson
    thats all i have to say about it

  • Jonah

    not many 19 year olds are nhl ready, and carrick isn’t like mackinnon anyways. year or 2 he should be back and effective

  • oryp

    I’m not sure it was losing the locker room, I think it may have been the management. “Oh the ol’ scoar moar goals isn’t working anymore, hey Bruce, try the trap. Oh that’s not working either, must be the coaching, because obviously forcing our system on you wasn’t the problem. You’re fired.” Who knows, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  • Jonathan Kenny

    G7 vs Rangers, Caps final man-advantage and George McPhee learns just how much time Dale Hunter spent in practice improving the power-play…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OZF8QPldOY

    So you would take Hunter, who benched Mike Knuble over your favorite stat, i.e. plus-minus.
    Hunter, who once didn’t tell Neuvirth he wasn’t starting the next game until he got to the arena. When asked why Neuvirth didn’t start he claimed it was because he didn’t think Neuvirth, who was our regular season AND playoff goalie the year before, could handle starting two nights in a row. What was particularly strange about this was that the goalie who drove drove 2.5 hours from Hershey to make the start had, in fact, played the night before!?

    I’d go with Boudreau since he is a better coach than both Hunter and Oates combined. But since he isn’t one of the choices; for all his flaws, I’d go with Oates. First, he communicates/talks with his players, which is absolutely essential when coaching ANY pro team. Second, he seems more amendable to change; Hunter is just stubborn. Regardless of what players said when Hunter didn’t return, I doubt many (any?) wanted him back. God knows Ovi didn’t.

  • Eric Schulz

    I KNOW that I heard that he lost the locker room… again, not sure it’s true, that may very well have just been a smokescreen floated out there by the management to justify his firing, but it was part of the narrative surrounding his firing… again, not sure how true it was, but I heard it mentioned along with the other stuff.

  • Eric Schulz

    Two big things…
    First: Oates has been a coach for a shorter time, so I think it is reasonable to assume he will improve as a coach more than Hunter would’ve. That kind of cuts both ways: you could argue that Oates’ hiring made less sense, and you would’ve rather had a more experienced guy… but I think, in a parallel dimension where Oates is the coach 3 years from now, he’s a much better coach than Hunter is in another parallel dimension where Hunter stayed the coach that whole time.
    The 2nd point is, I put more of the losing leads on Johansson than I do on Oates… you can say it falls on Oates, since he’s in charge, but I have a hard time buying that right now. I’d like to see us get an experienced, top-tier guy to coach the defense, and see what difference it makes.

  • Matt Root

    Agreed.. the PPG (Penner/Perry/Getzlaf) line was a real deal. That’s why it’s been so frustrating Oates hasn’t even looked at it.

  • Rhino40

    I miss the Arc Light/Rolling Thunder/Dresden Raid of F-Bombs… Then again we could have Randy Carlsile who throws a pen to conclude each tirade.

  • Rhino40

    Frankly, I am kind of torn on this subject.
    On the one hand, I understand that–with every win being desperately needed and Halak performing well (so far), a coach in Oates’ position would certainly feel pressure to ride the (currently) “hot hand”.

    That said, I also feel it’s critical not to neglect the long view. We have already dealt one decent young goaltender, and still have two more in Holts & Grü whom we must not alienate. Regardless of this season’s outcome, it is they–not Halak–who are the Caps’ future in net.

    I think it is very important to get Holts some starts because:

    • Even if GMGM renews Halak, it would most likely be a 1-year deal,
    • If the Caps make the playoffs, Halak will need some rest going in, and
    •Holts needs to be as ready a possible should Halak get in trouble.

    But in which games should Holts start, and will he get the necessary defensive effort level from his teammates?

    There are many factors at play here, and I don’t have any easy answers. Just saying…

  • Jonah

    …or maybe a top tier, experienced guy to PLAY defense?
    That would be great too

  • Eric Schulz

    Yes, of course. I don’t even know what that would be like, to have a top-tier physical, shutdown guy…

  • DashingDave314

    Yeah, definitely not like MacKinnon. Very effective at moving the puck though. Was great at the point in Plymouth. He has top 4 potential if he can shore up his defense.

  • Jonah

    im also pretty sure that its very difficult to work on defense when you’re paired with the flesh and blood equivalent of a greek column.