The Washington Capitals are seeking some positives to take from their latest setback. They blew a 2-1 lead in the third period on Monday night, eventually bowing out to the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 3-2. The current third line is at least one uplifting detail for head coach Adam Oates and his team to focus on.
Jason Chimera and his buddies Joel Ward and Mikhail Grabovski have played consistently well of late, especially during the just-completed road trip of Canada. Chimera has scored three goals in three games including a tally in Vancouver; Grabovski notched up his fifth goal of the season in the same game.
The third line has muscled-in six of the Caps’ even-strength goals in their past four outings, which is an impressive statistic given that the trio only took to the ice together for the first time on October 19 after Oates shook up his lineup. Ward and Chimera are old-school beefy wingers who love nothing more than wearing down opposing teams’ D-men. Grabovski is a perfect addition for the two of them to seek out.
“We’re not trying to toe drag anybody,” Chimera said after the Caps’ Oct. 24 win over the Edmonton Oilers in which both he and Ward scored. “We know what we are. We know what we do and we know we can make plays when we get it down there. That’s where we’re going to get all our goals – cycling.”
Chimera is the oldest player on the team at 34, but he’s also one of the fastest. He’ll race an opposing team’s rookie teenager and will win the sprint to the puck time after time. He never gives up and always displays a positive attitude.
Ward, 32, is the second oldest Cap and is a natural wing partner for Chimera. The two of them each know what the other one will do at any given moment, and now that the stealthy Grabovski is in between them the goals should keep coming.
“They grind away,” Oates said recently. “Chimmer and Wardo have played with each other a long time. They know each other well, they complement each other well, and they’re willing to go play that type of hockey that allows them zone time and to hopefully wear the other team down.”
Next up for Oates is figuring out how to get his second line to be as consistent as his third.