Second Line Propelling Washington Capitals


Nov 11, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson (90) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

During the Washington Capitals’ five-game losing streak, head coach Barry Trotz was constantly experimenting with new lines, trying to find the right chemistry to help his team get back on track.

It appears that Trotz has found that chemsitry – for now – in the second line consisting of Andre Burakovsky, Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson. The trio has made up the second line for three games now – Trotz had experimented with Burakovsky in the first line and Nicklas Backstrom in the second – and the results speak for themselves.

In Chicago, the first game as a line, Burakovsky and Johansson tallied one goal and one assist each. Burakovsky scored the first goal of the game for Washington with five minutes left in the second period, cutting the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1. Johansson assisted the rookie.

Four minutes later, Burakovsky returned the favor, recording the second assist on Johansson’s game-tying goal.

Joel Ward scored seconds later to put the Capitals up 3-2, a score that would stand throughout the third period as Washington snapped its five-game losing streak.

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The next night, Washington extended its winning streak to two with a 4-3 overtime win at home against Carolina. Brouwer scored the game’s first goal on a power play.

In Tuesday night’s 4-2 home win over Columbus, the trio made their presence felt once again. Johansson got the scoring started less than two minutes in the game off assists from both his line-mates. Two goals from Alex Ovechkin and two periods later, Johansson recorded his second goal. The assist came from who else but Burakovsky.

While Brouwer and Johansson have skated on the second line together since Washington embarked on its Canada trip, the addition of Burakovsky has seemed to lift the line to new heights. It’s also helped Washington forget about its five-game losing streak with three consecutive wins.

According to Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post, “Without Burakovsky, Johansson’s shot differential rate dips to 45.1 percent, and his goals-for percentage drops from 70 to 25. A similar regression happened with Brouwer too; the right-winger has a 51.3 percent Corsi-for with Burakovsky at even strength, and 48.9 percent without.”

While the line has only been assembled for three games, the trio has been making its mark. It seems Trotz has finally found the line chemistry he was looking for earlier in the season.