The latest Caps captain is a scorer, not a fighter. He's closing in on his third consecutive MVP and hates to come off the ice. So when Steve Downie tried to drop the gloves with him three weeks ago tomorrow and Matt Bradley came in to intervene, it was as heroic as a fight on skates can be. Since then, Washington is 10-0.
The Bradley incident is reminiscent of a Red Sox/Yankees brawl in 2004 which was seen as a turning point the season Boston won their first World Series in 86 years. I could just as easily point to Ovie's coronation as captain as the season's turning point, since the Caps are 13-1 since his first game with the C. But there was one other lineup change that game: Tomas Fleischmann moved to center.
When the Caps traded for Chimera, they took Clark out of the lineup and added a legitimate third line left wing, but the second line wasn't clicking. Semin was averaging a point a game (32 GP, 14 G, 18 A, +10), perhaps motivating him to sign a one year extension and not roll the dice on free agency. Since Fleischmann moved to second line center Semin has looked dominant (14 GP, 11 G, 12 A, +11) and the lines just look balanced. The top three lines each have a center, mucker, and sniper. And Washington may have the best fourth line in the league.
I'm not going out on much of a limb saying the Capitals have the best group of forwards in the league – they've scored 27 more goals than any other team in the league – and I'm not overly concerned with the goaltending. They're playing the best hockey in team history without their number 1. The defense if where the team's Achilles lies, but if they make a big move at the deadline it would probably to add crease clearer on the blue line. And if they have to give up a blue chipper to make a move, I have a feeling they'd be willing to part with Michal Neuvirth. Braden Holtby has been ridiculous in Hershey and they may not want to go into next season with two 22 year old goalies (Varlamov and Neuvirth).
Miscellaneous: Nicklas Backstrom may or may not be close to a five or twelve year extension... Ovechkin beat out Semin for first star of the month... Here's a cake I'd like to eat whether or not it's chocolate…
About the Author
Written by Ryan Cleaver
Ryan Cleaver was born in Björk’s house in Iceland and grew up on Easter Island, where his parents were giant stone heads. He has the ability to fire beams of tacos out of his hands and he can turn his legs into tigers. On Sundays, Ryan enjoys reading Family Circus and traveling through time. His favorite color is greenish-transparent and his favorite movie is the one you just watched.