Live Q&A: Join me now to chat about Knuble’s injury and anything else related to Game 4.
Over the course of the 2010-11 regular season, Coach Bruce Boudreau regularly shuffled his line combinations for reasons ranging from injuries to simple experimentation.
For four games beginning on Jan. 20 against the New York Islanders until the NHL’s all-star break, he put Jason Chimera on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Chimera recorded a goal, an assist and was a plus-4 in that stretch.
That brief stint on the No. 1 unit may make it easier for all parties involved to adjust tonight, when Chimera is expected to join Ovechkin and Backstrom for Game 4 against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
All indications point to Mike Knuble missing at least tonight’s contest, possibly because of an injury sustained when he was hit in the right hand by a puck on Game 3. Chimera has skated with Ovechkin and Backstrom in practice for the past two days.
“I’ve played with them before for a little stint there, and I just think they just want me to bring the physical game to that and get in on the forecheck, stuff like that,” Chimera said. “That’s what I bring to that line and I can’t forget that. I can’t obviously play like they play, so I’ll do what I do and hopefully help them out.”
The trick to playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom, Chimera said, is trying to not let himself get caught up in what they’re doing on the ice.
“Sometimes you get caught watching, just not skating where you need to, and just watching them,” Chimera said. “I’ve done that before many times, where you get caught doing their thing instead of your own thing. So I’ve just got to go out and play the same kind of physical-natured game I’ve been playing.”
Chimera won’t shy away from the net and should help fill that role most often served by Knuble, but where he can add a different dimension to the top line is his speed.
“He always has speed; he’s a lot faster than most of the guys in the league, actually,” Backstrom said. “He’s coming with speed all the time, so maybe I can pass him the puck and connect.”