The Washington Capitals top line – which often consists of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Marcus Johansson – has been exceptional and they’re one of the most dangerous teams with the man advantage. Despite that, Washington’s offensive output has been above average rather than top notch this season.
The main thing holding Washington back from reaching that next level is its second unit. Although the members of it fluctuates, the line has netted a mere five even-strength goals in 22 games, according to CSN Washington.
“We’re still searching for our identity as a line,” Laich said. “Our first line is a rush line. Our third line is more of a cycle, chip-and-chase line, and we’re trying to figure out who we are.”
Laich, Troy Brouwer, and Martin Erat are currently on the second line and Capitals coach Adam Oates has been toying with the idea of tweaking it again. The problem is it would mean messing with one of their more productive lines in the process.
With that in mind, it looks like Oates might avoid making significant changes ahead of tonight’s game against Montreal.
Having an effective second line is important, even on a team that’s getting offensive contributions from other sources. Without that depth, when the Capitals’ top players are silenced, as they were on Wednesday against Pittsburgh, there’s no one to step up in their place.