Capitals head coach Adam Oates must see something the Washington hockey media doesn’t.
Reporters were left scratching their heads today at practice as Oates had Alex Ovechkin back on a line with center Jay Beagle and winger Joey Crabb.
The Caps got their first win of the young season Sunday, finishing off a 3-2 victory over Buffalo after Ovechkin — whose third-period game-winner was his first goal of the season — had moved onto a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer.
But Ovechkin, Beagle and Crabb have started the last two games on the same line, and apparently they’ll be together again tomorrow in Ottawa.
With all due respect to Beagle and Crabb, the thought of Ovechkin skating on a line with players of their caliber would’ve seemed unthinkable a short time ago.
Per the Washington Time’s Stephen Whyno, Oates is citing “balance” as the reason to put Ovechkin with two forwards that have combined for 26 goals in 235 career NHL games.
Oates added: “I like having north-south guys with him. Maybe sometimes other [linemates] might try to get too creative … as opposed to being more relentless going north. I think playing with Joey and Beags, they’re going to go north more.”
Backstrom and Brouwer, by the way, were skating with Wojtek Wolski on the left wing today.
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: Bullet dodged?