NEWARK, N.J. | Adam Oates shook things up in a major way for the Washington Capitals in Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Alex Ovechkin skating on a line with Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb. Dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria.
Ovechkin (back on left wing) skated with Beagle and Crabb for the duration of the 3-2 overtime loss at the Devils.
“I wouldn’t call it the first line,” Oates said. “It’s just more to give Jay and Crabber – Crabber played a lot of hockey games so he had some real good jump – and just let them play with Ovi for 60 minutes so they can skate.”
Ovechkin played 22:29, while Crabb played 12:38 and Beagle 14:19. The captain was on the ice for Ilya Kovalchuk’s overtime game-winner.
The shake-up wasn’t limited to Ovechkin and his linemates. Oates scratched defensemen Roman Hamrlik and Tom Poti and center Mathieu Perreault, replacing them with defensemen Jeff Schultz, John Erskine and right wing Eric Fehr.
“Fresh legs,” Oates said. “We lost a couple games, they deserve a chance and they played very good hockey.”
None of Erskine, Schultz and Fehr made much of a difference in the game. But on the second half of back-to-back games, Oates gave the 39-year-old Hamrlik and 35-year-old Poti some rest.
Down the lineup, changes were plentiful. Nicklas Backstrom skated between Wojtek Wolski and Troy Brouwer, and Mike Ribeiro between Jason Chimera and Joel Ward.
“Trying to find balance and chemistry,” Oates said. “The biggest subject we’ve been talking about is conditioning and just trying to make sure that we have someone in the line that has got game shape, total game shape.”