RALEIGH — Adjustments are the name of the game in the Stanley Cup playoffs. After a 5-0 drubbing by the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday, the Capitals need to make a few.
Washington coach Todd Reirden has made some tweaks to his lineup with Game 4 approaching on Thursday. The Capitals are still in front with a 2-1 series lead, but they know that can change quickly with another performance like Monday’s.
Reirden shifted his forward lines around at practice on Wednesday at PNC Arena. T.J. Oshie moves up to the top line to play with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom while Tom Wilson drops to the second line to play with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana.
Oshie was critical of his own play, but he does have a goal in this series and this seems like a move more to help Kuznetsov and Vrana get more space with Wilson on their line. Shots have been hard to come by in the series for Washington. Kuznetsov does have three assists, but Vrana doesn’t yet have a point.
“Playoffs you kind of make adjustments and there’s pushbacks from both teams depending on how the last game went – or even the last period went,” Oshie said. “And they won the Game 3 pushback. Game 4 momentum is on their side, we have to get it back, play physical, play strong, play for each other, block shots, be better.”
So while Reirden flipped his top two right wings, he also flipped his bottom two left wings. Carl Hagelin will play on a revamped fourth line with Nic Dowd and Travis Boyd. Andre Burakovsky moves up to play with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly. The bottom six forwards have just one point in the series – Eller’s empty-net goal in Game 1.
Depth scoring was so critical for Washington in its run to the Stanley Cup last spring. Hagelin kills penalties, but this move only makes sense if they’re trying to add to that depth scoring and get the fourth line more ice time. Boyd joins the lineup for the first time this series and is more skilled offensively than Chandler Stephenson, the man he replaces. That theoretically should make it harder for Carolina to match lines the way it wants to.
“You need to forget about it, but also realize what went on,” Wilson said. “I think as a group our compete and our effort just wasn’t what it needed to be. So you have to use that. You can’t just think it’s all good.”
The blueline had just one change. Rookie Jonas Siegenthaler will make his playoff debut in place of Christian Djoos, who has been on the ice for four of Carolina’s 10 goals. Siegenthaler’s size and poise under pressure could help there. Djoos is just 170 pounds and has been targeted by Carolina in his limited ice time. But he can always skate the puck out of trouble and that’s a question mark with Siegenthaler, who played 26 games in the NHL this season.
“I felt like we wanted the game to come a little easier to us and they ramped up their game,” Oshie said. “You could tell with not only the score, but the shots and how the play went. We’ve got to be better and we will.”
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
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- Don't Blame the Fighter: Blame the league for allowing fights
- What We Learned: Lessons learned after a 5-0 loss