By Alex Hayes
On Friday the Capitals shook up their lines following Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Most notably, Jakub Vrana earned a promotion to the first line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Andre Burakovsky replaces Vrana on the second line after a strong couple games on the fourth line. Burakovsky scored his first goal of the season Thursday night in Edmonton.
On the blue line, Madison Bowey works his way into the line up, as Christian Djoos misses out with his first healthy scratch of the season.
Caps expected lines vs Calgary. Shakeups here:
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) October 26, 2018
Since the beginning of last season, Vrana, Ovechkin, Kuznetsov have played 95 minutes together. When together, the trio only controls 46.2 percent of shot attempts at five-on-five. They have also given up 22 high-danger chances while only generating 18 chances. However, the three players have high goals rate, as they have scored 7 goals and allowed 4 when on the ice at five-on-five.
The trio has played very few minutes together since the start of this season, and Vrana has been shooting the puck at a much higher rate than the previous year. Vrana has increased his shot attempts per 60 minutes from 13.9 last season to 17.2 this season, and he may be the offensive component needed for the Capitals’ first line to dominate games.
One #VeryGoodSign from the Caps first 8 games is how much Vrana is shooting the puck at 5v5 so far. https://t.co/WlhCbjhVv6 pic.twitter.com/C5vG08UPWb
— Patty Holds (@pfholden) October 24, 2018
The new second line has seen more success in the past. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Burakovsky, Oshie, and Backstrom have played 235 minutes together. The line has controlled 54.8% of shot attempts at five-on-five and generated 104 scoring chances while only conceding 89.
The one move that is curious is replacing Djoos with Bowey on the third defensive pairing. Djoos and Orpik have started the season well (they are the only Capitals’ defensive pairing with a positive shot-attempt ratio), and the Bowey Orpik pairing has been disastrous in the past.
When Bowey and Orpik play together, the Capitals have been out-attempted 456 to 326, given up 222 scoring chances while generating 156, and conceded 104 high danger chances while creating 61.
Between the pipes, Pheonix Copley may receive his second start of the season as Braden Holtby stayed on the ice with the scratches at the end of practice.
Interesting that Braden Holtby is still on the ice at the Dome along with the healthy scratches. Good chance that the #Capitals are starting Phoenix Copley tomorrow …meaning that the #Flames, after losing 9-1 on Thursday, could see the #Capitals back-up.
— Kristen Anderson (@KdotAnderson) October 26, 2018
The Capitals will debut these new lines tomorrow at 4 pm in Calgary against the Flames. The team will want Vrana and Burakovsky to help the top two lines generate more offensive output.
Headline photo: Getty Images North America
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