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Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brooks Laich Must Play Center

Would you rather have him or an AHL guy?  Yeah, me too.
Among the core Capitals to speak to the media on Saturday at the first day of training camp was Brooks Laich, who, among other things, told reporters that the plan was for him to play primarily wing during preseason and the beginning of the regular season, which starts in a little less then three weeks.  Laich attempted to add a disclaimer at the end by saying "it could all change," but lo and behold, he was skating on a line with Nicklas Backstrom as the center and Alexander Semin as the other wing during practice that day.  And during Washington's preseason opener, Laich could again be found on the second-line left wing.
I really think that Laich should not be playing wing on the second line, but instead should be manning the third line center spot, a position that would give the Capitals four established NHL caliber centers instead of three.  Why any coach would not want to do this is beyond me.
If Laich plays a wing on the second line, that means that the third line center spot is wide open, with Jeff Halpern pretty much locked in as the pivot on the fourth line.  That means that either Mathieu Perreault, Christian Hanson, Mattias Sjogren, or Cody Eakin would man the empty spot.  Now all of these guys are capable players, but they are not as good as Laich (yet, in the case of maybe Eakin) and they have never proved anything at the NHL level.
Pushing Laich up to a second line wing spot also bumps down Troy Brouwer onto the third line, which sends Jason Chimera to the dungeons of the fourth line with Matt Hendricks and Halpern.  I am no fan of Chimera's, per se, but he is not useless and he deserves more than seven minutes a night because of his speed and forechecking ability.  And Chimera's movement to the fourth line kicks Jay Beagle out of the lineup, which disappoints me.  I think Beagle has a good chance to make a bit of an impact this season on that fourth line.
In short, I fail to see the logic behind bringing up an AHL player to do the job when an already perfectly capable NHL player is on the roster, ready and willing to do that same job.  I think it hurts the potential effectiveness of the team greatly.

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