Should Capitals have a shut-down line?

Should Capitals have a shut-down line?
October 29, 2013, 2:30 pm
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Caps fall on the road to Canucks

It’s a philosophical hockey question that can be answered in a million different ways.

Today just seems like a good time to ask it.

Should NHL coaches employ checking lines to shut down opponents’ top scorers?

More specifically, should the Capitals give it a try?

The question seems relevant after watching the Canucks’ top line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler run the Caps’ top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson ragged en route to two third-period goals Monday night in a 3-2 loss in Vancouver.

On Daniel Sedin’s game-winning goal the Ovechkin line was stuck in their own zone for 78 seconds, an eternity for any hockey player.

“We were a little tired and they circled us and we couldn't recover," Oates said.

Through 12 games the Caps’ top trio of Ovechkin [minus-6], Backstrom [minus-4] and Johansson [minus-3] is a combined minus-13. By comparison, Kesler and the Sedin twins are a combined plus-12.

So, which is more prudent? Allowing more goals than you score when your top line is on the ice against opposing top lines? Or establishing a checking line specifically designed to shut down opponents’ top players?  

“Yeah, you can have an identified checking line,” Oates said before the Caps embarked on their four-game trip through Canada. “But I think when you watch a lot of teams you want to be able to put any line against anybody at any time because you have no choice.

“If we ice the puck they can put their first line against our fourth line and they have to do the job.”

True enough.

But, assuming the Caps keep their top line intact, if the Caps could create a shut-down line with their remaining 10 forwards on their roster, what would it be?

If you saw the Sedin twins hop over the boards with Kesler, which forward line and defense pairing would you counter with?

Join the conversation below.