It’s not the easiest of tasks for any group of defensemen to play with only five blueliners in a rotation. When Mike Green was forced to leave Friday night’s contest in New Jersey with an apparent lower body injury, the rest of the Capitals’ defensemen seemed to rally in order to prevent any lapse once they were playing with a short bench.
The defense figured in on each of the Capitals’ goals in the 3-1 win against the Devils, with Dennis Wideman, John Erskine and Karl Alzner all recording assists. By the end of the game, each of the five defensemen that remained in the lineup had played at least 17 minutes and 3 seconds with Wideman leading the bunch at 27:11.
“It can happen for short periods of time going with five,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said when asked about seeing the defense unite after Green’s injury. “I see it pretty often when a defenseman goes down, usually that game the team really bands together you can’t keep it up, though, for too often. That’s why we’re happy to have six, seven, eight defensemen deep. Jeff [Schultz] jumps in today and it should be good.”
Watching the defense play shorthanded, as was so often the case during the 2010-11 season when the injuries piled up, led naturally to wondering whether Boudreau would ever consider dressing seven defensemen in a game lineup just as an insurance policy.
When asked about the possibility of using seven defensemen, Boudreau said it’s not something he would do.
“I think we’ve got 13 really good forwards right now, so it’s not like we’re thin on forwards and strong on defense,” Boudreau said. “We’ve got really good depth at forward position it just doesn’t seem like it would be something I’d want to do. Sometimes you have a real heavyweight type of guy and you might sit him out to go seven D and we don’t have that.”
Boudreau also has the option of playing Brooks Laich on defense, something the coach has done in the past whenever injuries cause a shortage of blueliners. Boudreau trusts Laich implicitly, regardless of what position or role he is placed in and it also gives Washington additional flexibility at times.