The Washington Times - December 22, 2011, 11:57AM

Dale Hunter made a smart move in splitting up Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. It worked so well, that it appears like the Washington Capitals will go with the same look Friday night at the New Jersey Devils.

Thursday’s practice – the first full team workout since Tuesday night’s 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators – featured the same combinations. Red indicates the top line, and the three guys in red were Marcus Johansson with Backstrom and Alexander Semin.


Alex Ovechkin was wearing gray on the second line, something that is a very rare occurrence for practices.

“I don’t read that much into it. No it isn’t,” Hunter said when asked if it meant Ovechkin was on the second line. “Alex played well on that line and Backsy played well, so both lines were going. And that’s what we need.”

Hunter liked what he saw out of the Ovechkin-Brooks Laich-Troy Brouwer line against Nashville.

“They’re different players. Brouw’s one of the top hitters in the league and Brooksie plays hard,” Hunter said. “With Ovi hitting the way he can, too, the other team’s D’s going to be on their toes.”

Johansson’s also doing well on the wing.

“With Nicky there, too, they’ve got communication between each other – being from Sweden, both of them,” Hunter said. “And they’ve been playing well with Alex. It’s one game and I’ve got to see after tomorrow night’s game that they keep pushing like they are.”

Here are the full lines:

Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alexander Semin

Alex Ovechkin – Brooks Laich – Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera – Jeff Halpern – Joel Ward

Matt Hendricks – Mathieu Perreault – Mike Knuble (Jay Beagle)