On the road without the last line change it becomes much more difficult for Coach Bruce Boudreau to match his shutdown pairing of Karl Alzner and John Carlson or the third line of Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich and Joel Ward against an opponent.
That doesn’t mean he won’t still try to get that matchup against the Canucks’ top line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows on Saturday night, though.
Vancouver has scorers littered through its lineup but key to the Capitals’ success here will be their ability to minimize the damage done by that top unit, particularly the Sedins.
Daniel and Henrik captured the Art Ross Trophy in 2011 and 2010, respectively, for leading the league in scoring but what makes them particularly potent is their uncanny ability to know where the other is on the ice. Their cohesiveness can bewilder opponents and the Capitals are on guard.
“You kind of play defense by committee. You surround them and kind of take their time and space away. We’d rather have the points get the puck than have them cycle down low,” Chimera said. “You’ve got to be aware of it because they throw stuff behind their back.… It’s just one of those things, you’ve got to be aware of the unexpected at all times, I think, because they’re throwing passes that a lot of teams don’t even try.”
Trying to anticipate what twin brothers who have spent their entire lives playing together may do at any given moment is an unenviable task, but Carlson says the key is simply staying alert.
“They’re always looking to throw it behind you to areas [you didn’t think were open] and throw it on net and they’re always having guys toward the net,” Carlson said. “There might be a few plays where maybe you can turn and intercept the pass, but a lot of the time you’re like, ‘Whoa, boy, I didn’t really know that was there.’ It’s just one of those things, you have to have attention to detail on every single play. You can’t look the wrong way because they’ll beat you.”