Caps Throw Fehr Onto First Line of Fire
According to Tarik el-Bashir, Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau has penciled Fehr in on the right wing on the team's top line with fellow youngsters Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. With Fehr taking his place on Backstrom's right, Viktor Kozlov, who had experienced something of a revival recently working with Backstrom and Ovechkin -- to the tune of six goals and 3 assists in the last seven games -- is dropping to center the second line with Alexander Semin and Tomas Fleischmann on the wings.
In the wake of Saturday's disappointing 2-0 loss to Atlanta at home, Boudreau made it clear that he believed the team was relying far too much on Ovechkin to score and that the Caps needed to start working harder in front of the net to make it happen -- something a few outside observers had already taken note of. When you take a look at Fehr's game, he's got the sort of skill set that dovetails well with what Boudreau wants to accomplish -- namely the ability to muck it up in tight and cause the sort of havoc in front of the net that's made Tomas Holmstrom a millionaire in Detroit. And while Kozlov might have the sort of size to do the same job, it certainly isn't his signature by a long shot.
As for Fehr, who spent most of the season rehabbing a ruptured disc in his back, the real questions will start to get answered tomorrow night in Columbus. For starters, is 10 games in the AHL enough time to shake the rust off and play a physical role effectively at the NHL level? Fehr told el-Bashir he feels like he's 100%, and put his conditioning level at what it would normally be at the start of the season. We'll see soon enough.