One of the biggest discussions on social media during Game Three was Peter Laviolette’s decision to bench Daniel Sprong in favor of Daniel Carr.
Sprong scored 13 goals and tallied a career-high 20 points in 47 games, carving out a full-time roster spot for himself, while Carr spent most of the season on the sidelines (6 games) as a taxi squad member.
“Just a different role, a different player,” Laviolette said. “I actually thought Carrsy played a pretty good game. I thought his line was effective in the offensive zone. They were able to get in there and stay in there and generate some chances at times. I thought he made a couple of good defensive plays, a good backchecking play.”
Wednesday, Carr skated on the third line with Conor Sheary and Michael Raffl. According to Natural Stat Trick, the line skated nine minutes and 48 seconds together at five on five and had a 66.7 percent shot attempts percentage, tilting the ice in the Capitals favor. The line also generated six scoring chances while out on the ice together to the Bruins’ two.
But the unexpected jolt of offense from the third line was not why Laviolette made the change.
“We’re looking for players with different traits and bring different attributes to a line,” he said. “At that point, we’re looking for somebody for probably more D-zone starts who can take care of business in the defensive zone.”
Since Game Three was played at TD Garden, the Bruins got the last change, meaning the Capitals couldn’t control matchups as well during draws. Laviolette appears to have seen Sprong, who was benched multiple times throughout the season for defensive miscues, as a potential liability in his own end.
But more firepower may be what the Capitals need moving forward. The Capitals’ top six has only scored one goal at 5v5 (Tom Wilson). Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd scored four of the Capitals’ six 5v5 goals in the series.
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