Merit matters for Capitals as Adam Oates keeps shuffling

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It didn’t take long for Wolski to make an impact; he scored in his Caps debut Saturday and impressed coaches and teammates.

“He’s a skilled guy and he’s kind of sneaky out there,” Backstrom said. “He’s a good player to hold the puck.”

Perreault showed he could play well when given the opportunity during part of Backstrom’s 40-game concussion absence last season. He finished with 16 goals, tied for fifth on the team with Brooks Laich.

“I thought I had a decent year last year with numbers and stuff,” Perreault said. “I want to show [Oates] what I can do but I’ve got to get a little bit more minutes to show what I can do.”

Oates said he’ll try to find more minutes for Perreault, and, really anyone who earns it. Hendricks began the season on the fourth line alongside Perreault, so his promotion was further evidence that upward mobility is available.

Some players don’t care about that.

“To be honest with you, I’m not really worried about that. I want to start winning hockey games,” center Jay Beagle said. “If you could you would want to play the whole game just because I love to play. I’m never thinking about, ‘Oh, I want to move up in the lines’ or something like that. I just go out there and I play my game and if I get more ice I’ll work my butt off to try to win the hockey game.”

But the idea is that success will come from guys earning their spots.

“That’s the best thing about hockey, is that you play for each other, but you push each other every day as well,” Hendricks said.

And the added benefit of lineup fluidity is that, over the course of the regular season and playoffs, guys will get used to playing with each other.

“It doesn’t really matter who I play with,” Ribeiro said. “I don’t really care about that. It’s the way they play. If they play the right way, then it should be easy to play with anyone if everyone does the right thing.”

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