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Adam Oates: Caps need Jason Chimera to be ‘reliable’ on top line

(Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

Jason Chimera played only 5 minutes 43 seconds in the Capitals’ 6-5 overtime win against the Florida Panthers after starting on the top line because he didn’t have his “A-game” according to Coach Adam Oates.

In the first practice after the benching, though, Oates showed faith in the veteran winger and put him back on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro.

“We showed him some stuff, just little things. In a sense there’s a little more responsibility because you are playing against [the opponent’s] best players,” Oates said Wednesday of the message to the 33-year-old winger.

“You’re going to play against their best lines and we need you to be reliable there,” Oates said. “If you are, great. I love what he brings, that’s really the message.”

With the Capitals slated to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Chimera said he appreciated the show of confidence from the coaching staff and that it’s important for him to “have a good game and move on from there.”

Chimera was on the ice for three goals against at the Panthers and after being demoted to the fourth line at the start of the second period he took only four shifts in the final 40 minutes of regulation. When discussing the Capitals work to reinforce their systems in Wednesday’s practice, Chimera said that there’s no hiding from errors in the team’s video sessions.

“It’s always good to see video and see what you did wrong,” Chimera said. “Sometimes it’s tough to see when you’re up there on the video yourself, but you’ve got to kind of check your egos, which is good.”

Chimera has been critical of himself this season particularly because he has yet to crack the scoresheet. In 2011-12, he recorded a career-high 20 goals and 39 points.

Oates knows that Chimera wants to contribute offense, but the first-year coach doesn’t measure success exclusively through stats columns. He wants Chimera to emphasize the details of his game, work within the system and trust that the goals will come.

“Obviously I want him to get goals but they will come when you play correct,” Oates said. “His success is doing the little things so the line benefits. That’s for everybody not just him. Hockey is so hard to score now, it takes everybody.”

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