RALEIGH, N.C. | No matter what machinations the Capitals’ fourth line has undergone, it’s been pretty good. Matt Hendricks has been the only constant as the likes of Mathieu Perreault, Jeff Halpern, Jay Beagle and even now Mike Knuble have rotated in. (Yes, there was that one game with D.J. King, but that’s beside the point.)
Friday night, the Hendricks-Halpern-Knuble line was so good it could’ve been the first line – or at least the third. The players involved in the magic credited quick chemistry.
“I think the simplicity of our line benefits [us],” Hendricks said. “Playing with Knubs and Halpy, it’s almost like we know what each other’s going to do with the puck before we even get it. It’s all about the gritty and working hard down in the corners and getting some opportunities and going to the net.”
There’s something about these three guys that works well. Hendricks talked about the joy of playing with Perreault as him and Halpern working to get him the puck and creating traffic.
With these three – guys who have similar sandpaper-like games – the grind is there and the production could be even without someone like Perreault.
“I thought our line played well,” Halpern said. “Knubs and Hendy were fantastic tonight digging [out] pucks in the corner, and I thought the three of us did a good job of just holding onto pucks and being able to create off wearing them down for a bit.”
Against the Hurricanes, Halpern said there were nerves for a few shifts. When they settled down, they controlled the game.
“I thought we got a couple [shifts] where we were able to lean on them a little bit in their end,” Halpern said. “Hendy’s so good at getting on pucks and not just getting on them but holding onto it and Knubs is able to create offense off of being pinned against the boards and creating cycles that way.”
What the trio created was offense – in the form of Halpern’s goal – and momentum. Once the Caps got rolling, other pieces joined in on the fun, and they cruised to a four-goal win.