Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

How does Alex Ovechkin's return impact lines for Washington Capitals?

The Washington Capitals will get a massive boost as they try to stretch their win streak to three games tonight against the New York Islanders. Alex Ovechkin has missed the last two contests for the Caps, but will be back in the lineup against the Isles. The Great 8 is still the third-leading scorer in the NHL, and Washington’s attack gains a whole new dimension with him out on the ice.

Despite Ovechkin’s dominance in the offensive zone, Washington has struggled to find an identity in the early goings this season. Depth players such as Martin Erat and Mikhail Grabovski took their sweet time in getting their games going, and Erat has been so hot and cold that he’s been demoted to the fourth line once again.

It will be interesting to see how coach Adam Oates shakes up his lines with Ovie returning.

Erat and Eric Fehr fleshed out the top line with Ovechkin on the shelf, and the combination (along with Nicklas Backstrom) was outstanding through the last two contests. Since Ovie is clearly the trigger man when he’s on the top line, Backstrom typically passes the puck way more often than not.

With No. 8 out of the lineup, suddenly the center started shooting the puck more, and he scored three of his five goals on the season in the last two contests.

You can’t relegate Ovechkin to the second line though, so Erat will be shuttled back to a line that’s way too low for his talent level, while it’s unclear what Fehr’s fate will be.

Tags: Alex Ovechkin NHL Washington Capitals

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