Coach Bruce Boudreau has never hesitated to experiment with line combinations in his coaching career, in fact, it's something he's done regularly during his time in Washington. The alignment he used in a 4-2 win against Buffalo Wednesday night is the most altered one so far this season, and following the contest Boudreau said he believed all four lines did a good job.
The checking group of Jason Chimera, David Steckel and Matt Bradley looked as though they had played together numerous times before despite never having done so and Boudreau called them the Capitals' best line. Meanwhile, what would be considered the "top" line of Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson and Mike Knuble didn't always appear on the same page. Some of that is likely because of the rookie center needing time to acclimate to playing alongside those particular wings.
We'll have to wait and see how long any of these particular assignments stick together, because it's unlikely that the tinkering will wrap up quite this early in the season.
"It's funny. It's the first quarter of the season, you're trying to find things that are really going to click so that you'll leave them there," Boudreau said when discussing the new lines the Capitals used. "So we're doing a little bit of experimenting with the lines. I've done the same thing every year, you know. We get to where we're pretty confident with what we have and we just go with that the last half of the year. Right now everybody plays with everybody."
Back to Johansson on the first line though. It wasn't his best outing or his worst, but at times it was noticeable that he might have been over-thinking plays when determining how to react to Ovechkin. Johansson also didn't play past the 10:07 mark of the third period.
Statistically, with wins in 10 of 15 faceoffs, two shots and no official giveaways Johansson was solid.
"He worked hard and he skated and I thought he did an ok job," Boudreau said when assessing Johansson's performance. "I gotta imagine for a young guy there's a lot of angst when you're playing with Alex....'Do I skate with it? Do I pass with it? Do I look for him? And it takes a little of getting to know somebody."
FROM THE POST
Check out the game story from the Capitals' 4-2 win over Buffalo as they refused to let an early lead fully slip away and rallied to shut an opponent down.
As mentioned at the end of yesterday's Q&A session, I'm going to answer your questions live online each game day (Monday-Friday) as much as time permits this season. The next chat will be 12:30 p.m. Friday from Philips Arena in Atlanta and you can submit those burning questions here.
Speaking of Johansson, a reader sent in screenshots to Dan Steinberg of the rookie wearing another Swedish center's gloves.
Box Seats blogger Kareem El-Alaily discusses John Erskine's steady play.
AROUND THE WEB
Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski has created a guide for All Star write-in campaigns, including one for Alexander Semin.
HBO is planning to air a preview of the 24/7 Caps and Penguins series this Saturday with replays scheduled in the weeks leading up to the debut of the full series on Dec. 15. (NHL.com)