Bruce Boudreau trusts Brooks Laich to do anything. That includes play back on defense.
“You trust him. I do. I trust him a lot,” the Capitals’ coach said. “I know that if he’s going to make a mistake, and we all make mistakes, at least it’s going to be a mistake of effort.”
With Mike Green out, John Erskine “sore” and Washington up against the salary cap, Laich moved back to the blue line for Saturday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils. He was paired with Roman Hamrlik.
This isn’t the first time Boudreau has used a forward on defense, as he did so with Laich and Sergei Fedorov in the past. It really is about trusting responsible forwards to do that job,
“They pay attention to detail when you talk to them, they’re quick learners,” Boudreau said. “When you ask them to do something, they’re what coaches like because they grasp it and they pay attention to it and they do it and they do it right.”
This is believed to be the first time Laich has started a game on defense.
“We’re a little short-handed on the back end, so try to log a few minutes there and help the guys out,” Laich said on CSN. “I try to keep it really simple. You know, when you’re a forward playing D, you try to get it out of your hands and up to the forwards as quick as possible. Talk with your partner. Roman’s pretty experienced back there, so pretty easy to play with.”
Laich logged 8:03 of ice time in the first.
Green’s injury is considered day-to-day, but the Caps may not have the salary room to call up another defenseman. According to Capgeek, the Caps have $1,175,327 of long-term injury allowance (not real cap room but an exception because of Tom Poti).
But because this is the last year of the collective bargaining agreement, bonus overages from last year count against this year’s cap. The Caps have not released their bonus overage, so there is no way of knowing what their exact allowance is.
If Green is out an extended period of time and the Caps need to call up another defenseman, another roster move could be coming, such as placing Jay Beagle and his $512,500 cap hit on long-term injured reserve. Sean Collins ($525,000) got banged up in Hershey on Friday night, though Dmitry Orlov ($900,000) and Patrick McNeill ($525,000) could be options.
Caps lines and combinations:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Joel Ward
Jason Chimera – Marcus Johansson – Alexander Semin
Cody Eakin – Mathieu Perreault – Troy Brouwer
Matt Hendricks – Jeff Halpern – Mike Knuble
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Jeff Schultz – Dennis Wideman
Brooks Laich – Roman Hamrlik