Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Last season, Adam Oates tried to reinvent Eric Fehr. Instead of being an auxiliary winger, Oates turned Fehr into a checking line center. Actual hockey isn’t NHL 15, so the role was uneasy for Fehr. Center is a greater responsibility than being a scoring winger, offensively and defensively. Pivots are, perhaps, a little smarter than the rest of us. Fehr never quite settled into the position and bounced around the lineup and the press box under Oates. He did, however, find success with Joel Ward and Jason Chimera, inspiring a cult following for the line.
This season, it looked like Barry Trotz put an end to the Eric Fehr 3C experiment, placing the Manitoban on the top trio with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. After Tuesday’s histrionic 6-5 loss to San Jose, Trotz’s shifted his lineup. Fehr was back with Ward and Chimera. On Thursday, the line was Washington’s best. While they only registered one of Washington’s five goals — and it was barely even a goal — the trio shut down the opposition and earned praise from Trotz. Against the Panthers, the third line was again inspired. Chimera had a myriad of chances while scoring Washington’s lone goal of the night. It was set up by a brilliant pass from the corner from Fehr.
“With that line, I think that Fehrsie’s got really good hockey IQ,” Trotz said. “He can read off those two guys.”
“That whole line’s been really good the last couple games,” he added.
Late in the first period, Brooks Orpik fed the puck behind the net to Joel Ward, who banked it off the boards to Fehr. With two Panthers players closing in on him in the corner, Fehr flipped the puck to Chimera, who was wide open in front. Chimera backhanded it in. The Caps wouldn’t beat Al Montoya again until the shootout, nearly 48 minutes later.
“We’re starting to get that chemistry back,” Fehr said of the line. “We know where we’re gonna be. We could have had a few more today so that’s a good feeling.”
“First and foremost our job is to shut down other team’s top lines and the lines that are working well for other teams,” he added. “When we do that, we accomplished our job. Any time we can contribute offensively that’s a huge bonus with us.”
Despite the prosperity, playing center is unnatural for Fehr. It’s a bit like taking a ferret for a walk: it works out, but it still doesn’t look quite right.
“It’s got its ups and downs,” Fehr said. “It’s a battle.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.