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Ovechkin back on line with Crabb and Beagle

Jan 28, 2013, 1:31 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin AP

Capitals head coach Adam Oates must see something the Washington hockey media doesn’t.

Reporters were left scratching their heads today at practice as Oates had Alex Ovechkin back on a line with center Jay Beagle and winger Joey Crabb.

The Caps got their first win of the young season Sunday, finishing off a 3-2 victory over Buffalo after Ovechkin — whose third-period game-winner was his first goal of the season — had moved onto a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer.

But Ovechkin, Beagle and Crabb have started the last two games on the same line, and apparently they’ll be together again tomorrow in Ottawa.

With all due respect to Beagle and Crabb, the thought of Ovechkin skating on a line with players of their caliber would’ve seemed unthinkable a short time ago.

Per the Washington Time’s Stephen Whyno, Oates is citing “balance” as the reason to put Ovechkin with two forwards that have combined for 26 goals in 235 career NHL games.

Oates added: “I like having north-south guys with him. Maybe sometimes other [linemates] might try to get too creative … as opposed to being more relentless going north. I think playing with Joey and Beags, they’re going to go north more.”

Backstrom and Brouwer, by the way, were skating with Wojtek Wolski on the left wing today.

  1. digbysellers - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    They should call those two Surf & Turf

  2. tyler4richardson - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Wolski and Ovechkin on the same line was an awful idea. Two me first guys who want the puck and Wolski has barley played or scored in the past 3 years.

  3. hockeywithdrawal - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    So Oates wants to spread the scoring ability over two lines which makes it harder for opposing teams to match up.

    I don’t think it works like that in real life. Just on paper.

    • stakex - Jan 28, 2013 at 6:27 PM

      A great example would be the Rangers. Gaborik, Nash, and Richards are lighting it up playing together. Having them all on the same line hasn’t made them easier to stop in the slightest.

  4. lsxphotog - Jan 28, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Season is doomed…I love it.

  5. husky2score - Jan 28, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Is this another “experiment” because your last test didn’t give us a turd!

  6. 19to77 - Jan 28, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    How much more can Washington underwhelm, disappoint and fall short of expectations year after year before they finally admit the roster’s crap and go for the rebuild? It just doesn’t work, guys. Ovi’s not good enough to build a team around anymore, and he’s locker room cancer. They have unproven goaltending. They have middling defense on a good day which is terrible on a bad one – and all the days seem pretty dismal lately. And their new coach has been in full line-roulette for a week now – as much as I respect Oates, that’s a scary sign for any team. It signals desperation.

    How much longer before something has to give? If they keep up this win-loss ratio for a few more games they’ll be all but out of the postseason already. They’re last in the league right now. They have no time to figure out what’s wrong, and no room for any more mistakes.

    • stakex - Jan 28, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      Ovechkin is still good enough to build a team around. He did score 38 goals last year on a team that was an offensive disaster after all, and there is little evidence to support that notion that hes a locker room cancer (in fact, good luck finding any hard evidence to support that). I’m not saying hes the greatest leader, and perhaps he really shouldn’t be the Caps captain, but thats a far cry from being a cancer in the locker room.

      I do agree however that the Caps problem is that they are simply an over rated team. After Ovechkin, Backstrom, and maybe Green they aren’t as good as some people seem to think they are. Throw on a new coach making questionable choices, and employing the 4th new system for the Caps in three years and nothing good is likely to happen.

      • 19to77 - Jan 28, 2013 at 7:07 PM

        Oh, please, take the blinders off. He got Boudreau sacked and Hunter visibly despised him for his behaviour. It won’t be long before he and Oates go the same way. He’s fast earning himself a reputation as uncoachable and his ego is legendary. That’s locker room cancer any day of the week.

    • bcjim - Jan 28, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      Uh, while I havent done the math, I would bet that over the past 5 seasons, the Caps are top 3 in points. So yeah, crap roster, right.

      • 19to77 - Jan 28, 2013 at 7:27 PM

        And yet they still underwhelm, disappoint and fall short of expectations year after year. The Canucks won two President’s Trophies and we still don’t take them seriously. Why? Because they’re comical choke artists in the playoffs – and despite that they STILL made it two rounds further two years ago than the Caps have since the nineties.

  7. capsfan19 - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    What the… Jeez i dunno how i feel about this one. Well cant wait til our prospects show up! Ha ha kuznetsov please come quickly… Tom wilson… Forsberg….

  8. alexb64 - Jan 28, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    This didn’t make sense to me when I read it at first. Then I huffed on a can of gas & smoked crack for a half hour & now I TOTALLY get it.

  9. stakex - Jan 28, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Things like this will get Oates fired if the Caps don’t pick it up. I mean it was clear as day in the last game… while playing with Crabb and Beagle Ovechkin simply didn’t look good, and neither of them was able to help set him up in the slightest. Once Oates put Ovi, Backstrom, and Brouwer together he looked like a different player (they all looked better in fact). While they didn’t score at even strength with that line, Ovi had far more chances in the 2nd and 3rd period.

    I understand the concept of spreading your scoring talent around, but it only works with the right players. Crabb and Beagle just aren’t very good, so when they are playing with Ovi defenses can simply pile on and take him out of the play. They might give up some more chances to Crabb and Beagle, but who cares? Far better then giving Ovi chances, and those guys aren’t likely to finish too many times.

  10. phillyphever - Jan 28, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Can we just call Ovechkin for what he truly his already: an overrated prima dona.

  11. dcfan4life - Jan 28, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    Its great, if it works. I think its no surprise that Oates has zero job security here so anything he does is going to be questioned.

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