Alex Ovechkin returning for Saturday night’s season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes was still the plan when Bruce Boudreau last spoke to reporters. But the lines the Capitals coach has been throwing together on the ice – and did again Friday – speak to an interesting idea.
Boudreau said he’s experimenting with Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault as the first-line left wing. In theory, if Ovechkin does not play, one of them will take his spot and the other will slide down to second-line center.
“Just doing that to screw with you guys. Well, I’m not giving you any answers for that yet,” Boudreau said Thursday. “They’re both good players. We’ve got some good players. We’ve got to figure out where they’re playing, because there’s another guy coming back probably tomorrow that’ll probably play Saturday, so we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do.”
Ovechkin is expected to fly back from Moscow Friday. All along the team has said it expects him to be in the lineup.
But if he is not and neither Perreault nor Johansson works there, there is a contingency plan that involves the versatile Brooks Laich
“If we decided to put Mathieu on left wing or did we decide to put Marcus on left wing, we wanted to give them both a shot at it so they’re just not going in there blind,” Boudreau said. “And if neither one of them felt comfortable at the position, we’ll move Brooks into that position and have them as centers. We’ve got the options to move it, but we wanted to give them the ability to at least practice it.”
If Ovechkin does play, someone will be a healthy scratch.