Coach Bruce Boudreau has altered line combinations throughout the season, between games, during games and sometimes in the middle of a period. On Sunday those groups didn't change once but twice from what they started the contest as Boudreau continues to experiment and look for ways to spark the Capitals' offense with the appropriate balance in each mix.
Here's what Washington started the game with:
Roughly mid-way through the second period the Capitals were lining up as:
At the start of the third period things changed again. This time to:
Players maintain that they're familiar with all of their teammates so it doesn't really matter how the groups are assembled and everyone seems to understand that the maneuvering is done in the hopes of finding trios that last.
Boudreau was asked if he found combinations that he liked in all the switching against the Senators and he offered a little more insight into why he kept shifting things around.
"No. I think I went through 27 of them tonight," Boudreau said, only partially serious. "When you're not scoring you sit back there and you go: 'Do you keep doing the same thing or do you try something different?' Before the game I'm thinking [Marcus Johansson] and [Nicklas Backstrom]: great combination,outside speed. But then Marcus when he gets the puck more and he uses his speed through the neutral zone he's so much better. So it was something that I thought it was a good time to change."
Last week as part of Insider2 Neil Greenberg dissected the effectiveness of various lines but it doesn't look like the mixing and matching will conclude anytime soon, probably not before the team as a whole develops consistency at least.