Why Capitals Are Sticking WIth Same Forward Lines vs. Coyotes
The Washington Capitals will deploy the same forward formation as they had on Tuesday, and head coach Peter Laviolette offered some insight.
To kick off a three-game road swing, the Washington Capitals will face the Arizona Coyotes at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, and despite changing things up quite a bit over these last couple of weeks with Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson back in the mix, the team will be keeping the same forward lines it had before embarking on the road.
That means that Anthony Mantha will remain out of the lineup as a healthy scratch, marking the fourth time in six games that he's watched from the press box. Nicolas Aube-Kubel, who returned on Tuesday after sitting out for four games, will remain in the mix and stay on the first-line right wing. Nic Dowd is on the IR and will be "out for a bit" as he recovers from a lower-body injury he suffered on Monday. Aliaksei Protas, who was called up to add another center with Dowd out, will be the other forward scratch.
But why, after making tweaks over this last stretch, are the lines remaining constant this time around? Head coach Peter Laviolette offered some perspective and said that despite the 4-2 defeat to Minnesota, he liked what he saw from his combinations and believed that the Capitals were by far the better team over the course of the night.
"I don't like the score, but I thought our guys played hard coming off that b2b and competed and really pushed the entire night," Laviolette said. "By all measures except the scoreboard, the game was done the right way. so I'm putting the same group back out there."
READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals' Lars Eller Earns Praise, Peter Laviolette Says Scratch Wouldn't Have Lasted
Laviolette also added that he thought Aube-Kubel brought a lot to the table in his return against the Wild. Mantha's scratch on Tuesday was labelled as a "coach's decision."
Meanwhile, Dylan Strome and Alex Ovechkin will stay together, the Milano-Backstrom-Wilson line remains intact and Evgeny Kuznetsov will keep centering the fourth line with Marcus Johansson and Garnet Hathaway on his wings. Lars Eller will center the third line and work with Conor Sheary and T.J. Oshie.