Will Todd Reirden keep tinkering with Caps' top line?

Chris Lingebach
October 26, 2018 - 8:33 am

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

First-year head coach Todd Reirden has had to tinker with the Capitals' line combinations to compensate for the loss of Tom Wilson.

After a blowout 6-0 loss to New Jersey two weeks ago, Reirden – who went with Brett Connolly on the top line through the first four games – tried winger Chandler Stephenson out with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Caps split their first four games of the season 2-2.

Capitals winger Chandler Stephenson considered it a dream to play on the top line alongside such prestigious players.

"That's not something that happens every day, that you're playing with those two guys or even think of playing with those two guys when you're younger and want to get to the NHL," Stephenson told The Junkies on The Morning Skate, presented by D.C. Lottery. "Yeah. I'm still pinching myself."

The Caps split their next two games with that line combination, dropping one to Toronto but beating the Rangers. Reirden made another change midway through a 6-5 shootout loss to the Panthers one week ago, moving Stephenson back to the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, and replacing him on the top line with Devante Smith-Pelly.

Reirden has kept that line combination for two straight games now, leading to another split -- a 5-2 win at Vancouver on Monday and a 4-1 loss at Edmonton Thursday night.

With Wilson's 20-game suspension being upheld by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday, the Caps still have another 11 games to grind out before his return. Could another line change be coming?

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