Through the season’s first two games, the Capitals’ top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie has yet to register a point.
It’s small sample size, to be sure. But the trio's early lack of cohesion has been enough of a concern that Coach Barry Trotz met with the players Monday morning.
“I talked to all three members today,” Trotz said after practice. “The biggest thing is finding their game within our game. …That’s the decision making. That’s the work ethic. The execution, all that. It was fine when I put [the line] together many times last year, and it will be fine again.”
Trotz could opt to mix things up if Ovechkin’s line continues to struggle. But that, of course, could have unintended consequences such as disrupting the productive second line of Andre Burakovsky, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson, which has been the Capitals’ most dangerous combination thus far.
So, for now, Trotz seems content to be patient and allow the first line to find its groove.
“They’re on the dance floor,” Trotz said. “They just got to dance to the same song, that’s all.”
Oshie said the line’s early slump has been caused, in part, by poor communication.
“I think it’s just getting on the same page,” Oshie said. “We’ll talk a little bit more. We realize it. We talked about it right after last game. It didn’t take coming to the rink today to figure out that things weren’t exactly clicking well for us. We’ll figure it out, and once we get some the same page we’re going to do some damage out there.”
Oshie was not of the opinion that a disjointed preseason—World Cup participants trickled back into town at different stages—had any effect on the line’s slow start.
“You never know,” he said. “Could have. Couldn’t have. I wouldn’t blame it on that. We played together in the past and it clicked right away.”
Whatever the cause, Oshie, like Trotz, sounded confident that line will turn things around soon.
“We’re not in an early panic mode or anything like that,” Oshie said. “We’ve already talked a little bit. We’re right there. It’s just one or two reads, where one guy is thinking one thing and the other guy is thinking another thing.”
He added: “They carried me in Pitt. a little bit; I didn’t have my best game there. Then last game all three of us didn’t have our best game. So, hopefully we’re getting it out of the way early and we’ll find our game soon.”
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