Trotz had said earlier in the preseason that he planned to change the forward lines, but he said the lines for the last two preseason games are the ones the Capitals will likely start the regular season with.
“We’ll try to get a real good feel and what we’ll be thinking for the longer term, if you will, into the season here,” Trotz said on Tuesday. “If I was on the other side, what would be a tougher matchup? How do these guys complement each other, and all of those type of things.
“So yeah, we’ll tinker a little bit, but I think after this Carolina game, we’ll try to put people in places where we think they’ll start, and we’ll start our work from there.”
Kuznetsov said he and Williams talked about how they would play with each other, but it’s pretty simple for the young center: just get Williams the puck and he’s got a “nice, nice shot” to score. Once center Nicklas Backstrom is healthy and back on the top line, Kuznetsov could find himself skating beside Williams on the second line regularly.
Through three preseason games playing beside Ovechkin, Oshie became increasingly comfortable and enjoyed the amount of space he had by virtue of opposing lines focusing their attention on Ovechkin. Contrary to some outside perceptions, Oshie said he found Ovechkin to be an unselfish player who opened up a lot of opportunities for teammates.
“It’s amazing how excited he gets when his linemates score,” Oshie said. “You would think he scored the goal. It’s pretty cool.”
When Oshie joined the Capitals this offseason after a blockbuster trade, Johansson was one of the first teammates Oshie met, with the 24-year-old Swede quick to invite Oshie to play golf. Johansson’s been held out of exhibition games because of what Trotz called a “wrenched back,” and Trotz expected Johansson would be “behind the eight ball” because of some missed time.
“I’m really excited,” Johansson said. “It’s been a while since last year, and you kind of wait for this all summer to get started again. It’ll be good to finally get back out there.”
With Backstrom out, who the top-six forwards are and where each one plays is set, as Trotz is just experimenting with what line the new right wingers belong on. The bottom-six forward situation is more fluid. Centers Derek Roy and Chandler Stephenson are competing for roles there, while Brooks Laich, Jay Beagle and Michael Latta could also occupy the last two center spots. Several of those players also have versatility to play wing.
In Wednesday’s morning skate, Stephenson centered a line with Chimera and Stanislav Galiev; Latta centered a line with Laich and Sean Collins.
“I think what you’re going to see is probably on the third line, we make a decision on that third line and go from there,” Trotz said. “It is a little bit complicated, in the fact that we’re looking at Derek Roy and we’re looking at Stephenson in that third hole, but don’t forget a guy like Beagle can go in that third hole, which is a great asset to have. Laich can go there.
“We’re just going to try to build a line for whatever time frame Nicky may be out, we can get through that part.”