Capitals Face A Test Of Depth
After a relatively long break - 5 days – the Washington Capitals return to action in a divisional battle against the Atlanta Thrashers tonight. But the Caps are forced to do so with a number of injuries. The biggest name missing will be Alex Semin who the team say is “ill”. Boyd Gordon is also out, and there are several players who may play but will not be at 100%, with Jose Theodore, John Erskine and Tom Poti all reported to have suffered injuries recently. Although Thomas Fleischmann has been back on the ice in practice, he is not fully game-fit. Michael Nylander is also unavailable, as he has been sent to Grand Rapids to play a bit in the AHL.
So, although the majority of the big-name players are still healthy, the Caps’ depth on the lower lines will be put to the test. This is an opportunity for the likes of Eric Fehr and David Steckel to shine. Really, the only player from lines three and four on offense to have turned some heads at the beginning of this season is Matt Bradley who has contributed with a couple of decent goals. Bradley leads the third and fourth lines with four points, whilst on defense, other than the always impressive Mike Green, Tom Poti and Milan Jurcina lead on defense with two points apiece.
Many teams, such as the Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning in recent years, have been criticised for being too dependent on the top line. Is this true of the Capitals? Is the team too reliant on Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom? With the signings of Knuble and Morrison, there are more consistent point-scorers on the second line, but tonight will be a good indication of the Caps’ depth. Tonight there is still the safety-net of the big top line, but we will see more of the Caps fringe players and hopefully there will be good potential on show.