Is Alex Ovechkin getting a new center?
As Katie Carrera of Capitals Insider notes, Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau has been tight-lipped when discussing line combinations this season.
But today, he let something slip.
Marcus Johansson, the 21-year-old Swede that’s recorded eight points in 12 games, was given Thursday’s practice off to rest after Wednesday’s bag skate. With him out, there was a noticeable shift in center duties -- Nicklas Backstrom skated with Brooks Laich and Alex Semin on the second line, Cody Eakin dropped down to Johansson’s usual spot on the third -- leaving an open spot on the first line between Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer. (Fourth-liner Mathieu Perreault played there today.)
Could that spot be ultimately filled by Johansson, who was given practice off because Boudreau said he “needed him” this weekend in a home-and-home against the Devils?
“I think sometimes it makes the line a little quicker,” Boudreau said of playing Johansson with Ovechkin. “Sometimes you wait, in training camp Marcus wasn’t up to par — in his own words, I would think. But he’s started to play quite well now. Now, if we decided to make the change it would be a good time.”
The move fits with Boudreau’s newfound approach to attacking complacency. The Caps were brutal last game out (a 5-2 loss to Dallas; Ovechkin had zero points and a minus-2 rating), to which Boudreau responded by shuffling his lines. He seems determined to correct issues as soon as they occur, rather than letting them fester -- taking care of business, if you will.
Other examples of Boudreau TCOB this season include not starting Tomas Vokoun in the season opener, dropping Mike Knuble to the fourth line and his infamous “benching” of Ovechkin on Nov. 1.