Facing elimination, it looks like the Capitals could shake up their top lines for Game 5


With the Washington Capitals facing elimination in the second round of the playoffs against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins after a Presidents’ Trophy-winning regular season, it appears coach Barry Trotz is about to shake things up for Game 5.

Did we mention the Capitals must win Game 5 on Saturday? Failure to do so, and what was a great season, which ushered in such great expectations for the playoffs, suddenly ends in a shroud of disappointment.

As per CSN Mid-Atlantic following Friday’s skate, Evgeny Kuznetsov skated on the top line in between wingers T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin, while Nicklas Backstrom moved down to the second line between Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson.

Production from Washington’s top centers has been lacking in this series, which the Capitals trail 3-1.

— Kuznetsov: One assist in four games. He has two points in 10 games this post-season.

— Backstrom: One assist in four games. He had seven points in six games versus Philadelphia.

Lose, and it’s a good bet Ovechkin will be the lightning rod for criticism from pundits.

But at some point, sooner rather than later, the lack of production from Kuznetsov and Backstrom will need to change if Washington is to come from behind in this series.

“We know each other and we know what we need to do on ice and all,” said Kuznetsov of playing on a line with Ovechkin. “Maybe some small areas we will correct a little bit, but it’s still same hockey. We just have to play our game.”