Oates: "We gotta take care of our own end better"
There is patience and then there are results.
Capitals coach Adam Oates has plenty of patience, but with his team off to a 2-5-0 start it was time for a multitude of changes at practice on Friday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Are you ready?
Left wing Marty Erat, who was averaging a career-low 8:46 of ice time on the fourth line, will replace left wing Brooks Laich on the second line, with Laich shifting to center alongside right wing Troy Brouwer.
That means center Mikhail Grabovski, who has no goals and two assists since recording a hat trick in the Caps’ season opener, will center a third line with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward.
“I know we talk a lot about chemistry and that’s important,” Oates said. “I just felt a couple guys weren’t playing good enough for the minutes they’re getting and they need to know that.”
Apparently, those two players are Grabovski, who is averaging 17:23, and Eric Fehr, who has one goal, one assist and is a team-worst minus-7 with 13:06 of ice time.
Fehr was dropped from third-line center to fourth-line right wing, where he took turns with Tom Wilson. It’s entirely possible Fehr will be a healthy scratch Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Grabovski, who was angry about fourth-line minutes in Toronto last season, said he needs to generate more than the 11 shots he’s recorded so far this season.
“I’m not shooting enough,” he said. “We had chances but we didn’t score. But first we need to play better in the defensive zone.”
Brouwer didn’t seem too surprised to see Oates juggle his forward lines. In fact, he predicted it earlier in the week.
“I can only speak for my line, but we only had one [even-strength] goal in the first seven games,” Brouwer said, “and that’s not enough from a second line.”