After a crushing loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday, you may have been expecting big changes to the lineup. Instead, the only change at Thursday's morning skate came on the fourth line where Michael Latta was at center.
Head coach Barry Trotz said after the skate the change was based on the team's opponent Thursday, the Boston Bruins.
"Playing a little heavier team I think tonight," Trotz said.
"Big bad Boston Bruins, right?" Latta said.
The last time the Caps and Bruins met was on Oct. 2 in a preseason matchup that saw eight fighting majors doled out, four to each team. Granted, more fighting is expected in the preseason, but it highlights the physical nature the Caps are expecting to see from Boston.
Though Trotz stressed Chandler Stephenson has played well, it's no surprise to see the more physical Latta centering the fourth for Thursday's game.
"I think where he can be really useful is he brings an element, that sort of 'get under your skin,'" Trotz said.
Latta has struggled to stay in the lineup this season or even stay on the ice. He has played in only three of the team's 11 games and saw less than four minutes of ice time in his last appearance.
"You can only do so much as you're given," Latta said. "I thought I played well so that's a tiny, tiny positive for me."
Despite the lack of ice time, Trotz told reporters he is trying to make Latta a "utility" player so that he can stay in the lineup.
"If he can play multiple positions that's really easy to have in your lineup and then that probably helps you stay in the lineup too knowing that you don't have to take people out because someone could slide into center or to wing."
"All you can do is build trust one minute at a time, every shift at a time," Latta said, "So that's when you got to just bear down and not give him an excuse to take you out."
Lines at morning skate:
Ovechkin - Kuznetsov - Oshie
Johansson - Backstrom - Williams
Chimera - Beagle - Burakovsky
Laich - Latta - Wilson
Orpik - Carlson
Alzner - Niskanen
Orlov - Schmidt
Braden Holtby was first off the ice.
Extras: Taylor Chorney, Stanislav Galiev, Chris Brown and Chandler Stephenson
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