They’ve only played together for two games, if you count the preseason, but the line of Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich and Joel Ward already seems to possess the chemistry of a group that’s spent months or more as one unit. The rapid assimilation between the three isn’t something that surprises Coach Bruce Boudreau much, though.
“All three of them are hard workers,” Boudreau said after Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win. “They’re not like cute players so it’s easier to come together there because they’re like a meat and potatoes line.”
Against the Hurricanes, each player on that line recorded a point – granted, Laich’s tally came on the power play – with Chimera and Ward teaming up for a goal late in the second period. Karl Alzner had sent the puck around the boards out of the defensive zone and up to Ward, who heard Chimera call for the puck in front of him.
“I kinda saw him busting up the wing and I just waited until I saw there was a forward play in the defense there, just chipped it up the boards,” Ward said. “It was a pretty simple play, he kind of took care of the rest.”
Chimera skated in alone on Carolina’s Brian Boucher and shoveled the puck over the netminder’s shoulder to give Washington a 2-1 lead at the time. In total, the group had seven shots on goal.
“I wouldn’t have even called them the third line,” Boudreau said when asked to rate the group. “I thought they played very good five-on-five against the [Eric] Staal line. The Staal line was pretty good when they had a man advantage but I thought [the Capitals’ third line] did a great job. I thought they had the puck more in [Carolina’s] zone than maybe the other way around.”
As Boudreau mentioned, the third line earned the matchup against Carolina’s top unit of Jeff Skinner, Staal and Tuomo Ruutu and the task of shutting them down at even strength. It was a task that Washington’s “meat and potatoes line” seemed well suited for.
“A lot of times, top lines don’t want to play in their own end,” Chimera said. “They want to be offensive and get going. We thought we did a great job. We are three big guys who try and keep the puck down low and create some chances for ourselves.”