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Capitals Notebook

Capitals Experiment With New Lines, Laviolette Hints At Potential Change

The Capitals got to work with some interesting line combinations, but head coach Peter Laviolette indicated those may not stick.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — It was a bit of a strange practice early on Friday morning at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, as 800 kids were in attendance to celebrate Alex Ovechkin's recent milestone and watch him and the Washington Capitals get a skate in before they take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.

Another strange instance took place with the line combinations, though, as the team saw some interesting tweaks, with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway separated, Anthony Mantha drawing back in and Dylan Strome interchanging with Lars Eller.

Dowd went to work with Mantha and T.J. Oshie, while Strome and Eller were on a fourth line with Marcus Johansson and Hathaway. Nicolas Aube-Kubel was also cycling into the mix as an extra.

For head coach Peter Laviolette, it was just a blender of mixing things up, and he indicated that those lines likely won't stick as the team looks to figure things out on offense.

"It's just practice right now," he explained. "Again, we're just looking at different things and slotting guys in."

Here were what the forward lines looked like:

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary

Sonny Milano-Nicklas Backstrom-Tom Wilson

Anthony Mantha-Nic Dowd-T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson-Dylan Strome/Lars Eller-Garnet Hathaway

The Capitals last few games haven't gone exactly according to plan, as the offense is still trying to find chemistry while Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson still get comfortable in their returns to play.

In Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Flyers, Laviolette put familiar pairs together, including Ovechkin and Kuznetsov and Backstrom and Oshie. However, the offense didn't really start to generate pressure until the final 10 minutes, and most of the time, the forecheck was held to the exterior.

READ MORE ON WHN: Are Things Between Mantha & Washington Capitals Beyond Repair Or Leading Down Trade Path?

For Laviolette, it's not just about production, as he feels his players need to control the tempo a bit more at both ends of the ice, which could lead to more changes.

"Just as far as a rhythm going offensively, you know? You gotta move some guys out of position and we're trying things. I think that happens when you're starting something… we've got to slot these guys and find out what's working, what's not working. It's not so much that the line that somebody's on has to go out and score a goal.

"For me, it's more about the team and whether or not we're driving the play," he added. And that's what I'm looking for, whether we win the game or lose the game, I want to see us dictate. And if it's not working, I don't want to stay with it too long… we've got to find a way to push things a little bit more."

As Laviolette stressed, these lines don't seem likely to stick, but for now, it looks like Mantha could be back int he mix on Saturday with him taking rushes.

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