The Peerless isn't much on the concept of "lines," as they are commonly known. But he does pay attention to pairs, and there is something troubling afoot with the Caps. We are led to believe -- and we agree -- that "chemistry" is an important ingredient in the recipe for success. Further, the notion since training camp has been that "chemistry" between Alex Ovechkin and Viktor Kozlov, and between Michael Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom would permit the Caps to get off quickly.
Well, that was the hope...
Alex Ovechkin has nine goals on the season. And of these, how many primary assists have gone to Kozlov?...two. You know who also has two?...Michael Nylander, and he does not play on Ovechkin's line at even strength, for the most part. Both Kozlov and Nylander have had a total of three assists on Ovechkin goals. In the last ten games, only one of these two have had the primary assist on the other's goal -- Kozlov, on Ovechkin's first goal in the 7-1 win against Toronto.
Now, as to the matter of Nylander and Backstrom...Nylander has four goals this year. On how many has Backstrom provided the primary assist?...two, but none since game 5 (we completed game 13 last night, and the Caps are 2-6 in that stretch since the last Nylander/Backstrom success). Backstrom is yet without a goal.
Loathe as we are to don a coaching cap -- it just doesn't fit -- something isn't working here. We're wondering...when Alexander Semin comes back (assuming it isn't delayed until after Thanksgiving), the grand experiment of Ovechkin-Kozlov and Nylander-Backstrom might be better set aside in favor of moving Nylander to the top line to center Ovechkin and Clark, and moving Kozlov back to the second line to center (or play on the wing) with Backstrom and Semin.
The Caps are tied for 20th in the league in scoring at 2.54 goals-per-game. If the Toronto game really was the aberration folks are coming around to think, they're averaging 2.17 goals a game. The Caps' defense is improved (they've given up more than three goals only three times in 13 games), but not so much as to make anyone think that scoring two-goals a game is going to make for a winning season.
There is a fine line between patience and stubbornness...we might be there with respect to who plays with whom.