Help wanted: Top-line left wing for Capitals

Help wanted: Top-line left wing for Capitals
March 1, 2013, 3:30 pm
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Caps in need of win after embarrassing loss to Philly

Since the start of training camp, Capitals coach Adam Oates has been conducting auditions for the role of top-line left wing alongside center Mike Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin.

He’s tried Marcus Johansson [1 goal, minus-7], Wojtek Wolski [2 goals, minus-5] and Jason Chimera [0 goals, minus-4] with little success.

On Saturday in Winnipeg Matt Hendricks will get his shot.

“It’s by committee until I feel there's a guy who can be entrenched there,” Oates said. “It’s an opportunity for other guys.”

Hendricks has spent most of this season playing on a line with Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb. He has three goals and one assist and leads the team with 42 penalty minutes. But with Chimera struggling, Oates moved Hendricks up and dropped Chimera onto a third line with Mathieu Perreault and Joel Ward.

“I’m going to bring that energy that I try to bring every night, play a little bit physical and try to make the other team to turn pucks over so that Alex and Ribs can have more ice and more space,” Hendricks said.

“So that’s really what I’m going to try to do -- create turnovers for them. I’m going to go to the net hard, crash and bang and just try and keep the puck on their stick as much as I can.

“These are opportunities that you work for, and I look forward to it.”

Ovechkin has gone two games without a goal after netting a hat trick against the Devils on Saturday.

“He can play a physical game and go in front of the net and finish,” Ovechkin said. “We just have to get the puck to the front of the net.”

Booing Ovi: If there is one thing Ovechkin can count on any time he plays in Canada, it’s getting an earful of boos every time he touches the puck.

It happened when the Caps played the Jets in Winnipeg last season and he expects it to happen again on Saturday.

“Of course it gets me going,” he said. “It’s always nice to go in places like that. I don’t know why [they boo].”

Hendricks said there’s nothing better than seeing Ovechkin get emotionally engaged in a game.

“Ovi is a competitor and he loves when people are against him, and they don’t want him to succeed,” Hendricks said, “because that’s when he plays his best.”