In each of the past three games, a different forward has served as a healthy scratch for the Capitals. Against Buffalo it was Matt Hendricks, against Columbus it was Eric Fehr and against Carolina it was Jason Chimera. While the health of the blue line is a concern that is not the case among the forwards, of which there are 15 healthy players.
Coach Bruce Boudreau ran into the same problem last season and has commented on how difficult it can be to juggle personalities and on-ice needs to determine which players won’t be in the lineup on any given night. That said, it’s the situation the Capitals find themselves in once again. And like he did last season, Boudreau is going through something of a rotation with the healthy scratches.
“It is and it isn’t,” Boudreau said when asked if it is a cycle or rotation of players. “I think some guys that are struggling need a day off and at the same time I think we’ve had a few guys struggle. With Chimmer, he hadn’t scored in 25 games or something and we give him a day off and sometimes you just get to watch from above and good things happen. Good things happened to him the next game and you don’t want to sit out. You don’t want guys that want to sit out. It’s sort of a rotation, but maybe Matt can see the same thing.”
Even though there are only three games remaining in the regular season, Boudreau said he doesn’t see a token cut-off point for him to start using only the lineup he believes will start Game 1 of the playoffs. Given Boudreau’s rotation of line configurations that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise either, because there’s nothing to say that he won’t substitute different players in and out based on the circumstances of any given night in a post-season series.
“We didn’t [have a cut-off date] last year because we had four extra forwards all the time,” Boudreau said. “It was a little bit different because we had locked everything up. This year it’s not as many...we’ll play it by ear and see how the games go and we’ll determine by A. the standings and B. what we need to do.”