By Reed S. Albers
Boy, these sure are easier to write when the team is winning and scoring. The past three games offered some heroics that the Caps haven’t seen in a while (a month, give or take, to be exact), much to the delight of their fans.
There was Alex Ovechkin’s stop-and-go goal, Dennis Wideman’s hat trick that wasn’t, the power play’s mystifying success and Troy Brouwer endearing himself to Coach Dale Hunter with a Gordie Howe hat trick.
Life is tentatively good again in Caps-Land and as we embark on another week of puck, starting with the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, here’s a look at the Top Six players from last week.
1. John Carlson (one goal, six assists, seven points, plus three)
Captain America was one of the few bright spots in Monday night’s beat down turned comeback as he tallied a trio of assists and finished plus three on the night. In the next two against Ottawa and Toronto, he brought a mix of his offensive and defensive game with a goal and three assists. With Mike Green sidelined longer than anticipated, Carlson needs to make chipping in on offense a regular occurrence.
2. Dennis Wideman (two goals, three assists, five points, even rating)
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the two former London Knights are starting to breakout as Hunter begins to fully implement his systems. Wideman had a hat-trick that wasn’t on Saturday against Toronto, but I’d take a four point night as consolation any day of the week. He also tallied two of his goals on the power play, a unit that’s struggled mightily all season.
3. Nicklas Backstrom (two power play goals, two assists, four points, minus two)
His minus two comes from a Florida Panthers game most of the Capitals would like to forget, but since then Nicky has been putting points on the board and making the first line potent again. He had four points in two games and it appears he’s got Alex Ovechkin back in step with him and when those two are working well together great things happen.
4. Alex Ovechkin (one goal, one assist, two points, minus three)
The defensive stat is underwhelming, but what really sticks out is the creativity that went into and built up his first goal since Nov. 25. Ovi tried just about everything, but it was his swoop around the net into a stop that finally created some room. He’s shooting more (seven shots against Ottawa, eight against Toronto) and that’s a sign he’s coming closer to the breakout game fans are craving.
5. Brooks Laich (two goals, two assists, four points, three game point streak)
Laich’s success is also the successes of his line mates, Joel Ward and Jason Chimera. They’ve been the most consistent line all season, but Laich stands out for his individual play and time on the power play. He notched a power play goal against Toronto and he’ll be a big part of that unit getting back on track moving forward.
6. Troy Brouwer (Gordie Howe hat trick)
A goal, an assist and a fight against Ottawa puts Brouwer at No. 6 on this week’s list. I could drone on about the Gordie, or we could watch the magic happen together. Let’s do the latter.