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Capitals’ depth is a ‘multi-headed monster’

Seventeen different players have goals this season

- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 5, 2011

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Washington Capitals' balanced scoring is no secret. And if it was, five different players putting up goals Friday — and an NHL-best 17 goal scorers this season — should make offensive depth jump out at anyone analyzing this team.

Now, though, Mike Knuble has a good term for it.

"It's a multi-headed monster when your team's going very well. You don't know which head to go after," he said. "So when you get that balance, it makes for a lot of good nights because the pressure's not on any one guy every night."

The Caps' multi-headed monster belies their reputation around the league of being star-laden. Yes, the Caps are talented with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green (when healthy) and Nicklas Backstrom, but the supporting cast chipping in is starting to become the rule rather than the exception.

Tuesday night against the Ducks, Washington snapped out of a mini skid with a big performance out of its "meat and potatoes" third line of Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera. None of those guys had a point Friday, but because every other line scored it didn't matter.

"It gets the pressure off some of the guys that feel that they have to do it, maybe," center Marcus Johansson said. "[We have] four lines that can score and that's good defensively as well. It's a good thing and it's tough for the opponent to face that."

The lines could be all different Saturday night at the New York Islanders, and then again Tuesday against the Dallas Stars, but the fourth line of Knuble, Matt Hendricks and Jeff Halpern seemed to be perfect in a grinding, energy role Friday.

"Whether you score or generate a shot even, at times it's about territory and maybe making them play in their own end and make them play on the defensive and see if you cant get some shifts to mount in the offensive zone," Knuble said. "I think that's our job."

Having a guy like Knuble on a fourth line makes it hard to call it the fourth line, but that's the kind of talent Washington has— and is taking advantage of — early this season.

But it's not like stars haven't shined, too. Ovechkin has been maligned for not putting up big numbers but he's over a point-a-game. And Nicklas Backstrom is leading the way with five goals and 11 assists.

"Whether [Backstrom] scores or whether he doesn't, he's such an integral part, because he does everything else well," Boudreau said. "And he goes about his business the way he goes about life — he's very quiet. It's no surprise to me."

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