Michael Latta fights current teammate Kris Newbury in a game last year.
According to Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post, Eric Fehr will return to the lineup this weekend and the healthy scratch will be one of four players currently practicing on the fourth line. They are: Jay Beagle, Michael Latta, Liam O’Brien, and Tom Wilson
Game-day decision whether Beagle, O'Brien, Latta or Wilson gets scratched from the 4th line, Trotz said. Fehr's back beside 25/92.
— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) October 31, 2014
Scratching Michael Latta would be a mistake and here’s why.
In the limited minutes he’s received this year, Latta has been one of the Caps’ better possession players. Latta was one of the three rookie centers Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock singled out for praise after the Caps-Wings game earlier this week.
|Player||Games||TOI/Game||Shot Attempt %||Faceoff W-L|
* Stats are from War on Ice
Obviously all of these sample sizes are small, particularly Wilson’s. But regardless of that, Latta’s possession numbers are the best among the potential healthy scratches for Saturday. And there’s reason to believe Latta can continue to be a solid possession player now that he’s separated from Aaron Volpatti. Last season, Latta had a SA% of 48.5%, but in the limited time he wasn’t being weighed down by Volpatti (27:14), he titled the ice and saw a SA% of 53.3%.
Further, he is adequate at faceoffs and, in limited minutes (about 30 seconds per game), has allowed the least amount of shot attempts/60 among all Caps forwards on the penalty kill so far this season.
Latta is the last guy who should be scratched out of this group. Wilson is working his way back into form after injury and has the highest upside of the group, so he should get a sweater as well. Beagle’s faceoff and penalty killing abilities make him deserving of a spot on the line, as well. For me, WWE Sheamus impersonator Liam O’Brien should be the healthy scratch among these four player on Saturday against Tampa.
Who do you think the Caps should scratch?
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