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Caps Top Trios Coming into Focus

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A look at the Caps current - and best - line combinations

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie were back on the ice on Wednesday, one day after missing practice due to maintenance on a lower body issue and personal reasons, respectively. That’s good news. (Unfortunately, Lars Eller missed another practice as he continues to nurse a lower body injury of his own.)

Also good news? Those lines at practice look pretty darn good. In fact, swap in a healthy Eller for Michael Sgarbossa and send Daniel Sprong to the press box (hey, just go with it), and what you’re looking at is literally the Caps’ top four five-on-five line combinations (minimum 53 minutes played) by expected goal percentage:

via MoneyPuck

That’s incredibly solid - four lines with a weighted expected goal percentage (if you choose to look at it that way) of 57.9 percent. As a point of reference, that’s a number that would rank the Caps second in the League behind only Colorado.

Reality has been roughly as kind to these trios as expectations, in aggregate, but that’s probably less important, since the Caps’ remaining games are in the future and not the past:

via MoneyPuck

That’s a very strong weighted percentage of 61.0.

Now, obviously the weighting is the hardest part an odd way to look at this, given that we would never expect the fourth line to get five times as much ice as the first, but the point is that all four of these lines have been very good in the minutes they’ve been given. And that first line? It might have the most to offer, given how well Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov have been playing together. To wit:

via HockeyViz

That’s an awful lot of red (and an awful lot of opportunity for T.J. Oshie to get back on track).

As they say in the world of investing, past performance does not guarantee future results. But these Caps lines may well give them their best shot at staying hot overall.