The line combinations are out for tonight’s opener against Washington. As it stands, it looks like this:
Andrew Ladd – Bryan Little – Niclas Bergfors
Freddy Modin – Nik Antropov – Nigel Dawes
Evander Kane – Rich Peverley – Anthony Stewart
Ben Eager – Alex Burmistrov – Chris Thorburn
Johnny Oduya – Zach Bogosian
Dustin Byfuglien – Tobias Enstrom
Brent Sopel – Ron Hainsey
Sopel and Hainsey were the weakest defensive pairing during the pre-season; I would not bank on huge amounts of ice time for them. I am very much excited to see the forwards lines going out there with a mix of scoring and punch. Stewart should be able to protect the puck for Peverley, and with Kane’s added weight the third line should be an exciting line to knock the Capitals around.
Ladd-Little-Bergfors sounds like chemistry in a bottle, with the playmaker Ladd able to set up both Little and Bergfors; Bergfors’ speed will be a huge asset.
Burmistrov centering the fourth line looks more like a case of “where else?” than “checking line center.” He’s been putting on weight and isn’t as easily knocked off the puck, but he does look out of place between Thorburn and Eager.
If for some reason the gloves are dropped tonight, look for recent acquisition DJ King of the Capitals to drop them against his old Central Division buddy Ben Eager. Without Eric Boulton in the line-up tonight, the best fighter is Eager. Thorburn’s always ready to drop the gloves, but his tenacity’s seldom rewarded with a win. King’s one of the best fighters in the league, so it might be helpful to night incite him to swing any punches.