Time (def.): the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues : duration; a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future.
Three games might not be enough time to arrive at any conclusions about time, but it might be time to make a comparison between similar groups of Caps and time…
…on ice, that is.
Last season, the Caps opened each of their first three games with a third line of Eric Fehr, Marcus Johansson as a rookie, and Jason Chimera. In those games the trio had average total and even-strength ice time as follows (with their respective scoring lines):
Compare that to the trio who started the first three games on that third line last season (with their respective scoring lines):
This is a group that has – in a brief and small number of instances – been given more opportunities in terms of ice time, averaging substantially more even strength ice time than their 2010-2011 counterparts. And they have (so far) delivered, contributing four of the Caps’ 12 goals scored to date. That is a bump over the three of 12 the third line recorded in the first three games last year.
But the current edition of the third line has been on ice for few opposition goals – Laich and Ward for two, and Chimera for one of the seven even-strength goals scored against the Caps so far. Last year’s edition was on for a similar number of fewer goals (Fehr, Johansson, and Chimera for two apiece of the six even strength goals scored against the Caps in the first three games of the season) and in shorter chunks of even strength ice time.
It is early, but in time, this third line could be the two-way contributor that the Caps haven’t had to support the big guns on the top two lines of the forward group.