Arguably the most consistent line the Capitals have used this season has been the “meat and potatoes” combination of Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich and Joel Ward. It’s an effective checking, shut-down line that also has had offensive success.
So when Coach Bruce Boudreau opted to break it up in recent games – excluding the one when Laich played defense, because that’s a horse of a different color – it raised a few eyebrows.
In Nashville, he moved Laich up to centering the second line with Chimera and Alexander Semin for what Boudreau explained as two basic reasons.
The first part being that he wanted to distribute responsible players who are performing well throughout the lineup a little more evenly, rather than load up on the one line. “I think we were throwing all our eggs in one basket,” Boudreau said.
“Sometimes you put Joel Ward on one line and he builds it up a little bit,” Boudreau said. “Chimera was going pretty good and we had a pretty young line in Eakin, Johansson and with Semin — trying to put a little more experience with it.”
The other aspect is to try to help spark Semin’s offense. Boudreau said he is “trying to put a little more experience” with the Russian winger, who has just three goals and eight points in 16 games this season.
“We certainly would like him to score some more,” Boudreau said when asked if moving Laich was done with Semin’s production in mind. “In a perfect world he’s never been held to three goals at this time of the season, so I’m sure it’s all foreign to him right now.”
Looking at Semin’s goals scored in each year of his career through his first 16 games, this is somewhat unusual for him. Here are his goals through his first 16 games over the years.
2010-11: 12 goals
2009-10: 9 goals
2008-09: 13 goals
2007-08: 2 goals (He scored a goal in each of the next three games after playing in 16.)
2006-07: 8 goals
2003-04: 3 goals