As the Capitals look to continue moving forward under Coach Adam Oates tonight against Ottawa, there’s one line that seemed to have instantaneous chemistry and a strong understanding of what he wants out of the forwards.
That would be the line centered by Mike Ribeiro with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward. They’ve only been together the past two games – during which the members of the trio have accumulated eight points — and as they prepare to play a third as a unit, they like the early returns.
“So far it’s good, we’ve been creating a lot of chances,” said Chimera, who was on a line with Ward early last season as well. “I think our line for the most part has been in the [offensive] zone, creating chances and cycling pretty good.”
They were on the ice for both of the Capitals’ even-strength goals in the 3-2 win over the Sabres and each recorded a point on Ward’s opening tally of that contest. Although they haven’t played together in each of the first five games of the season, Ribeiro (6), Ward (5) and Chimera (4) are currently Washington’s top point-getters.
Oates likes the way they’ve supported each other as a group, and it’s clear that each player’s skillset works well in conjunction with the other.
Chimera’s speed demands a respect from defenses that gives Ribeiro and Ward more room to work than they might otherwise have, and Ward will go to the net consistently and force opponents to contend with him in the crease.
“I’m not the fastest skater but Chimmy’s a guy who can push the ‘D’ back, give me more space to carry the puck,” said Ribeiro, who added that he likes to have both a right- and left-handed shot on his line. “They forecheck well and create the turnovers that we’re looking for to create offense.”
While Ribeiro’s ability to create plays out of thin air and find the other two even when they might not expect it makes for scoring chances that can catch foes off guard.
“His patience is unbelievable,” Ward said. “He holds onto the puck, and not just his plays but he works hard, too. He’s not the biggest guy, obviously, but he wins battles out there and I think that’s key for Chimmer and I.”
Said Chimera: “He’s a lot like [Nicklas Backstrom] in a way where he can get you the puck even when you don’t think you’re going to get it… It’s pretty uncanny sometimes; the puck’s on your stick and you don’t even know it’s there. It’s pretty good that way. It’s been two games we’ve been playing pretty good, hopefully it keeps going.”