New Start for Caps
The Washington Capitals ended their third winning streak this season as 2015 came to a close. Let us not lose faith though—it had to happen sooner or later. A nine-game streak is worth celebrating and it is not time to raise the panic flag yet.
The Caps have taken a bruising the past few games. Players have been on and off the injury list. Thankfully, only two are on the injured reserve and long-term injured reserve. Although we don’t know the full extent of Brooks Orpik or Jay Beagle’s injuries, we can hope that they are on the road to recovery and will join the team before too long.
Beagle is having surgery according to Coach Trotz and has been placed on the injured reserve list. No timetable for his return.
John Carlson could be back in a few days, according to comments from Coach.
Meanwhile, Trotz’s Boys are up in Columbus, Ohio taking a day to rest before they look to resume their winning posture.
On the Bright Side
Standings: The Caps are first in the Metropolitan Division. They are first in the Eastern Conference. They are a close (1 point) second in the NHL. They have a healthy lead in the division and conference.
Team: Coach Trotz has molded this team into just that: a team that plays well together and that supports one another. It isn’t a matter of one shining star but of many who step forward to share the responsibility for winning.
Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 21 goals and is four away from 500 NHL career goals. He is fifth in the NHL.
Braden Holtby leads the league in wins (24). His 1.86 goals against average is second in the league. He’s got this! And backing him up in the net is Philipp Grubauer who is a strong goaltender and someone in whom the coach has great confidence.
Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetzov are assist masters. Each has 22 assists and 11 goals. They are creating opportunities every shift for the top line to score while scoring themselves as well.
Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie, and Marcus Johansson round out the top six with a fighting drive to get to the net and score. Williams and Oshie have 24 points and MoJo has 22.
Jason Chimera has notched 10 goals this season making him part of the six with double-digit goals. Although Tom Wilson only has two goals in his column, there is no denying the presence he brings to ice and the way in which he excites the team and the crowds. The hole on this line clearly is Jay Beagle, yet the team managed to fill the gap with Michael Latta and Zach Sill. Sill seems to be a great fit for now, regardless of which line he plays.
Andre Burakovsky finally broke through and scored a goal during the game in Buffalo. The fourth line, with Brooks Laich and Michael Latta looked strong on Thursday—each with shots on goal that came close to getting around the net minder.
Defense: The loss of John Carlson could be seen on Thursday. Carlson brings something more to the game than just the 27 points he is carrying—he brings real leadership too. It is less clear what coach will do with the partnering of defensemen and the temporary replacement of Carlson on Saturday. They were not all that the team needed on Thursday and hopefully they will get back in the groove and hopefully Carly will return strong and healthy against Boston.
Bottom line: The Caps are still a strong team. They still want to win. The word most tossed around after the coach’s presser is “resilience.” They have a commitment not to lose two straight games and they have the desire to go for another winning streak. This is a team hungry to win and we can expect to see more good things in the days ahead.
Holtby, with 125 career games won is four games away from passing Don Beaupre (128) for second place on the Caps franchise list.
Sat Jan 2, 2016 Capitals Blue Jackets, 7:00 PM CSN-DC
Tue Jan 5, 2016 Capitals Bruins, 7:00 PM CSN-DC, TVAS
Thu Jan 7, 2016 Capitals Islanders, 7:00 PM CSN-DC, TVAS, SN360
Sat Jan 9, 2016 Capitals Rangers, 1:00 PM CSN-DC, SNE, SNO, SNP
Photos by Brittney Marcum