In the past three games that Jason Chimera, Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr have played together on the Capitals' third line, there has been little mistaking their chemistry with each other or the dividends that result from their blue-collar approach.
There were stretches against the Maple Leafs, Bruins and Flyers this week where the Chimera-Gordon-Fehr line was the one to create sustained offensive pressure with a strong forecheck -- in some instances, against the opposing team's top line -- and get momentum going the Capitals' way.
"I think we're a pretty hard-working line," Fehr said this weekend. "We all like to get in on the puck and forecheck, and when you've got three guys all on the same page, it makes a big difference overall."
Contributions from the third line, along with those from the top two groups, have been a staple of Coach Bruce Boudreau's teams. He doesn't want to rely on only six forwards to create offense, and this past week the third line did make its way onto the scoresheet.
They've helped add goals in all three games, with Chimera cashing in on a setup from Gordon against the Leafs, aiding in the setup of John Carlson's game winner against the Bruins and Fehr tying the game up at 1-1 against the Flyers, but there were quite a few more chances in each contest for the group.
Through these three games together, they've added five points, 20 shots and finished with a combined plus-6 rating. Not too shabby. In the faceoff circle, Gordon won 26 of 45 draws during that stretch (57.7 percent) with his best night winning 10 of 15 against the Bruins. And his strong play, in particular, has helped make it difficult for Boudreau to find a reason to tinker with the lineup or put the now-healthy Marcus Johansson back in the mix.
"Positions aren't out there just to be given, and [Gordon's] played really well," Boudreau said prior to the start of Sunday's game against the Flyers. "Marcus will have to come back and play really well to get in there. We have four good centers and five when he gets here."
FROM THE POST
The hard-copy edition recap from the Capitals' 3-2 overtime win against the Flyers.
More on Braden Holtby's first career NHL start from colleague Gene Wang.
For Insider 2 , Neil Greenberg discussed the statistical reasons to keep Alexander Semin on the top line. But Boudreau broke up the young guns' line again on Sunday and in his postgame comments following the win over the Flyers said the group looked "a little off".
AROUND THE WEB
More breakdown of Holtby's game against the Flyers over at The Goalie Guild.
In addition to a recap of Hershey's 4-2 loss to Charlotte, Tim Leone has an update on Marcus Johansson's first appearance with the Bears. (The Patriot News)