- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

As the Washington Capitals begin their long road trip across the landscape of Western Canada, they will do so with a bit of a shake up amongst their top two forward lines.

T.J. Oshie, who has played as the top right wing across from Alexander Ovechkin for the vast majority of his Capitals‘ tenure, will swap positions with Andre Burakovsky, who had been serving as the right wing on the second line alongside center Nicklas Backstrom and left wing Marcus Johansson.

“Just want to get a few guys going,” head coach Barry Trotz said of the swap. “I think I can bounce them around a little bit. We need to get more from all of our lines, so you move one piece at a time and see what the common denominator is. It’s not an inditement on anybody. I just think we can get more out of our lines.”

The change comes after a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers, Washington’s first regulation loss of the season. The hope is to jump start the offensive production of both the top line and the second line.

Burakovsky believes he, Backstrom and Johansson were playing great hockey, but they just weren’t converting on their scoring chances.

Burakovsky is right, that trio had been playing really well. According to Corsica.hockey, that trio generated 63.21 shot attempts per 60 minutes of play while only allowing 35.36 per 60 minutes of play. That ratio of shot attempts for and shot attempts against is the best ratio of any combo of three players across the NHL so far this season, according to Corsica.

However, that same trio only combined for two goals despite all of their scoring chances.

Now, Burakovsky will flank center Evgeny Kuznetsov, a pivot he played a great deal with just last season. And with Ovechkin on his opposite side, the top line now has two bonafide shooters on the same line.

While, in theory, it may pose a problem to have two trigger-happy wingers on the same line, neither Burakovsky nor Ovechkin seem too concerned about it. Instead, it gives each player on the line more options.

“Let him shoot,” Ovechkin said of Burakovsky. “It’s nice to have two shooters in the same line. It’s going to be easy for [Kuznetsov] to find someone obviously. But we’re going to try to do our best and try to score goals in the game.”

“We both like to shoot, but obviously the guy who has the best opportunity is going to get the puck,” Burakovsky said. “Just because we both like to shoot doesn’t mean that we are going to shoot from everywhere. We have to give each other good opportunities to shoot.”

Oshie, more of a playmaking winger with a scoring touch than a surefire shooter, joins an elite duo of passers in Backstrom and Johansson on the Capitals‘ second line. Oshie, who finished with a career-high of 26 goals last year with Backstrom as his primary center, is hoping he can gel with his two Swedish teammates.

“They move the puck really well,” Oshie said of Backstrom and Johansson. “I feel like if you watch the last games with the three Swedes, they really find good areas to support each other. Hopefully I can help out and play a similar style.”

The Capitals have a week-long, four-game stretch in which they take on Canada’s western clubs. The first matchup comes against Connor McDavid and his Edmonton Oilers, who firmly sit atop the Western Conference with 10 points in 6 games, largely credited to McDavid’s nine points in six games, making him one of the top scorers in the NHL.

Washington then heads all the way to the coast of Canada to face the Vancouver Canucks before making their way back east to face the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets.

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