Capitals reluctant to use the same old line


QUEBEC -- If anyone thinks the Washington Capitals had a different look in their 3-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers on Friday night, he is right. And that look will continue tonight against the Quebec Nordiques.

After that? Wait and see.

Lines that had seemed set suddenly were shuffled. Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld started moving his players around last Wednesday during a 2-1 loss to New Jersey. But Friday, the changes were even more startling.

There on a line together was the team's leading scorer, Peter Bondra, and Michal Pivonka -- nothing unusual about that. But out there on left wing was Joe Juneau, the team's leading assist-maker who only two weeks ago talked about how their three styles each took something away from the other.

And there on another line was Dale Hunter with Dimitri Khristich and the newly healed Keith Jones. Less than a week ago, Hunter aligned with Kelly Miller and Steve Konowalchuk as a checking line with Schoenfeld singing their praises. But three straight losses can change the way a coach -- and his players -- think.

"We just think Bondra, Pivonka and Juneau together provide a lot of offense," said Schoenfeld. "And we have a situation where we have Dale Hunter with Dimitri Khristich, and I thought Dimitri played better in the last home game with Hunter than he has in a while with Michal and Peter.

"And with Jones back now and on a line with Hunter and Khristich, it gives us two pretty good scoring lines and should provide a lot more offense."

Schoenfeld had another reason, too.

"Hunter is better at center, Pivonka is better at center and we're not going to use Joe on the checking line, obviously," Schoenfeld said. "So it's a way to get our six most productive forwards playing together. And it gives Hunter a break from the checking line. We also can exploit his playmaking ability more than we have been lately."

Juneau, who said his play is more suited to players like Jones and Konowalchuk, did not complain of the change.

"I played left wing pretty much the whole time I was in Boston," said Juneau, who had two assists Friday. "Obviously, it's not my first choice, but you can't complain if you're on the left side with two good players. And it worked pretty good. We had some good chances.

"We had two goals on the power play and I thought we could have had two or three more even up. We missed a few, but I thought we played good and it's a very dangerous line."

NOTES: Goalie Jim Carey is now tied for the lead in the NHL with four shutouts with Chicago's Ed Belfour and Florida's John Vanbiesbrouck. . . . Defenseman Mark Tinordi, playing on the power play for the first time Friday, is likely to be there again. "It's been a situation where we've asked other people to stand in front of the net and we haven't had the same result because you take a lot of abuse in there," said Schoenfeld. "But Tinordi is big and strong enough and he made a great play to give us a great lift." Tinordi had one goal and one assist Friday.


Opponent: Quebec Nordiques

Site: Le Colisee, Quebec

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: Ch. 20/WMAL (630 AM)

Outlook: The Capitals are coming off a 3-0 shutout of Florida on Friday night that moved them into a fifth-place tie in the Eastern Conference, before Boston reclaimed sole possession of it last night. Quebec, the top team in the conference, has had trouble with the Capitals, who have won two of the three meetings this season. The Nordiques are coming off a 5-2 win over Buffalo on Friday night. G Jim Carey is expected to start his 22nd consecutive game, which ties a Capitals record. The Nordiques report D Adam Foote (groin) and D Jon Klemm (groin) as day-to-day, and G Jocelyn Thibault (sprained shoulder) and D Alexei Gusarov are out. Washington C Dave Poulin (groin), who has been out since March 16, might return.

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