Tonight's tilt against the Florida Panthers marks the Washington Capitals' 30th game of the season, and Coach Bruce Boudreau said that as long as he has extra healthy forwards, he will no longer be sitting players on a semi-regular basis to keep everyone fresh. Instead, the lineup will be based on individual successes and failures.
On any given night right now, at least two forwards will be healthy scratches, presuming nothing changes on the injury front. Against Florida, it appears those players will be Matt Bradley and D.J. King, but on Monday it was Eric Fehr, who has scored just two goals and recorded five points in his past 15 games.
"Right now it's not going to be... where I sit out guys because we've got extra guys," Boudreau said. "Now it will be sitting out on merit. You might find guys sitting out four, five games in a row but it's down to that part of the season where we've got to make them understand that sitting out -- there's always a reason for it."
Fehr has been a healthy scratch twice this season, on Oct. 30 in Calgary and against Toronto earlier this week. The right wing has struggled to score this season and has just 10 points in 27 games, but lately he's had his fair share of chances. On Dec. 4 against Atlanta in particular, Fehr took multiple shots on Ondrej Pavelec in the first period but couldn't find the desired result.
Boudreau has spoken of Fehr holding the stick too tight, over-thinking his opportunities to score in order to try to get out of this slump. Back in the mix against Florida, Fehr will try to get himself back on the scoresheet while playing on a line with Jason Chimera and Marcus Johansson.
"Going to try to bear down a little bit more," Fehr said. "I think I've had a lot of opportunities the last couple of games and unfortunately I haven't been able to put them in. Tonight I'm going to try to be a little more selective and try to make some good shots."
Said Boudreau: "For a guy like Eric, getting chances is one thing but he's got to put them in. If goal scorers that are primarily goal scorers don't put in their chances in; there's a lot of guys on this team that work hard and can do that job so he's got to put the chances in when he gets an opportunity."