Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Our weekly look at individual Caps’ ups and downs
The Capitals became the first team to hit 100 goals this season, and they did it before the calendar flipped to December. They avoided a three-game losing streak and instead won three in a row. What did that look like for each guy in the lineup? Let’s find out.
Nicklas Backstrom is…still injured. At this point, he has missed five games. He traveled with the team to Detroit on Saturday, but did not make it back into the lineup. Is this a sign that he might be close to returning? Who knows, but let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.
Verdict: Get well soon, please?
Travis Boyd had a relatively quiet week, especially compared to the hot start he had when he was called up a few weeks ago. He tallied one point last week, the secondary assist on Ovechkin’s game-tying goal against Tampa, but he had no other points. He had three giveaways but he did manage to stay out of the box and was tapped for both power play and penalty kill time. It looks like the good just barely outweighed the bad last week, but not by much.
Welcome back to the lineup, Nic Dowd! He returned after some complications from a hand injury he sustained kept him out longer than anticipated. He made his presence known right away, even though he was held off the score sheet. He was tied for fourth-most hits on the team last week with nine, and he had the best faceoff record at 58.06%.
Lars Eller only had one point through three games, but boy was it a pretty one. He was in the right place at the right time to tap in a Jakub Vrana rebound against the Panthers, tallying his sixth goal of the season. Eller is still centering the Caps’ second line in Backstrom’s absence, and he still seems to be handling the responsibility well. The only noticeable dip in his performance last week: he only won 45.16% of his faceoffs. Other than that, it’s relatively smooth sailing for the Great Dane.
Carl Hagelin can be activated off LTIR for Tuesday’s tilt in San Jose, and it looks like that is all set to happen. The Caps sent Beck Malenstyn and Christian Djoos back to Hershey yesterday to clear roster space, and Hagelin will reportedly be back in the lineup.
Verdict: See you tomorrow!
Garnet Hathaway returned for Friday’s matchup against Tampa, where he skated 2:19 on the penalty kill, laid two hits, and had one takeaway. However, the most notable part of Hathaway’s week? The moment where he absolutely launched former Cap Mike Green into the Washington bench in Detroit on Saturday.
Have yourself a week, Evgeny Kuznetsov. He is clearly enjoying his time centering the Caps’ top line because had six points through three games, tied for the most on the team last week. His one goal opened the scoring for the Caps’ comeback against Tampa on Friday, and he had a three-assist outing in Detroit. The only bad things to say about Kuzy last week: he led the team in penalties with four and he went a dismal 31.25% at the faceoff dot. Sure, that’s rough, but it hurts less when he has stellar offense to back it up.
Verdict: On the rise
Brendan Leipsic only had one goal last week, but it was an important one. He scored the Capitals’ fourth goal of the night against the Panthers, which ended up being the game-winner. It was a beauty of a play that allowed Leipsic to show off his speed, which is never going to get old. He was quiet other than that goal, but it’s getting really hard to not like how Leipsic is fitting into the lineup.
Beck Malenstyn only played in one game last week, Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Florida. He got shipped back to the Hershey Bears yesterday morning, presumably to make room for Hagelin to be activated off LTIR. Fun fact: Malenstyn wasted absolutely no time and promptly scored a goal in the Bears’ 4-3 OT victory last night.
Verdict: See you next time!
T.J. Oshie had quite the turnaround last week! He was part of the Capitals’ high-flying top line and tallied five points (1G, 4A) through last week’s three games. Oshie scored his 11th goal of the season in Detroit on Saturday, and he had a particularly impressive outing against Tampa where he tallied three assists. Let’s not forget about that errant pass on Wednesday that led directly to Brett Connolly’s goal for the Panthers, because that was rough, but Oshbabe had a pretty stellar week overall.
Verdict: On the rise
Alex Ovechkin hat trick? Alex Ovechkin hat trick! Oh captain my captain was back at it again last week, notching six points (5G, 1A) and the 24th hatty of his illustrious career. This one, however, was different: two of the goals were empty netters. Clearly he just felt like shaking things up and adding yet another first to his career. He also felt like giving his goal against the Panthers a throwback vibe and did this to get the Caps on the board first. Other things to note about Ovi’s week: his five goals on 16 shots were good for a whopping 31.25 SH%, he laid ten hits, and had three takeaways. The Great 8 may be 34 years old but obviously he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
Verdict: On the rise
Richard Panik found the score sheet again, and wow it was a killer shot. Panik gracefully picked up a long pass from Jonas Siegenthaler and absolutely sniped the puck over Bobrovsky’s blocker for his second goal of the season. The shot was perfect, as was the way he glided towards the net on one skate to fire it off. Panik might have been otherwise quiet last week, but the fact that he managed to get a goal two weeks in a row is definitely encouraging.
Chandler Stephenson was in the “quiet week” camp last week. He stayed off the score sheet but also stayed out of the penalty box. He skated 5:37 on the penalty kill through three games, and was not on the ice for any power play goals against. Bottom line: he wasn’t noticeable in a bad way, but he wasn’t noticeable in a good way either.
Here’s your daily reminder that Jakub Vrana is elite! He had yet another solid week, tallying four points (1G, 3A) for fourth-most on the team and recording 16 shots on goal, which tied Ovi for the most on the team. He also drew two penalties while staying out of the box himself and created four rebounds. One of those rebounds was scooped up by Eller on Wednesday for a beautiful goal, which just goes to show that getting the puck on net is half the battle. Vrana also made some slick passing plays last week, including a beautiful power play sequence in Detroit for an Oshie PPG. Not bad, Jake, not bad at all.
Verdict: On the rise
Tom Selleck had-oh sorry, my bad, I meant Tom Wilson. Tom Wilson had a pretty decent week. He recorded nine hits against the Lightning on Friday, and he scored his tenth goal of the season in Detroit on Saturday. He also only took one trip to the box through all three games and was second among forwards in ice time with 58:22.
Verdict: Steady, now please go shave
A one-point week from John Carlson in the year of our Lord 2019? Weird, but it happened. He had one primary assist in Detroit, but that was the only mention of him in the scoring column all week. He skated just under 74 minutes through three games, which was eight minutes more than any other Cap, and spent time on both the power play and the penalty kill. He also blocked nine shots, the most on the team. Was this an objectively bad week of hockey? No, but we all know John Carlson is capable of so much more.
Radko Gudas had another pretty solid week of hockey. He recorded two assists, including the primary helper in the beautiful passing play that led to Leipsic’s goal against the Panthers. He also only took one trip to the sin bin and laid ten hits. On a less-than-stellar note, Gudas was on the ice for five goals against, the most for any Cap last week. Other than that, however, Gudas seems to be doing just fine.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll believe it when I see it with Nick Jensen. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a player who likes to slow the game down on your hockey team, but when it so clearly clashes with the way the rest of your guys play, it raises a few questions. This is getting frustrating to watch.
Michal Kempny’s play took a bit of a dip two weeks ago, and while it didn’t necessarily improve last week, at least it didn’t continue to nosedive. Kempny was mostly unnoticeable last week; he didn’t make any obviously boneheaded mistakes, but he also didn’t do anything worthy of a round of applause.
Dmitry “Highlight Reel Goals Or Bust” Orlov was back at it again last week! That’s right, Dmitry Orlov scored a beauty of an overtime winner to complete Washington’s comeback against Tampa on Friday. He also recorded the primary assist on Ovechkin’s game-tying goal in the third period of that game. He also laid eight hits, blocked five shots, and took only one penalty through three games. Not bad, Dima, not bad.
Verdict: On the rise
Jonas Siegenthaler had the first multi-point game of his career last week when he recorded two assists against the Panthers. His primary assist of the night came on a beautiful and perfectly timed long pass to Panik in the second period, and he got the passing play started for Leipsic’s tally later on. Siegenthaler also, once again, led the Caps in penalty kill minutes, skating 8:40 through three games. Watching him become more and more comfortable on the PK has been a real treat this season, and he is turning into an incredibly reliable blueliner for the Capitals.
Braden Holtby with another solid outing in net for Washington? Tell me more. Holtby played two of the Caps’ three games last week, and he looked as strong as ever. His performance against the Panthers was particularly impressive, stopping 37 of 40 shots. Holtby finished the week with a .914 SV% and a 2.93 GAA, which is pretty good. All things point to the Holtbeast having settled into the season quite nicely after a bit of a shaky start.
Ilya Samsonov was tapped for Saturday’s game against the Red Wings, and he did not disappoint. The Russian netminder looked stellar between the pipes, stopping 25 of 27 shots for a .926 SV% on the night. He recorded his sixth win this season as he continues to prove that he more than deserves this job as Holtby’s backup.
Verdict: Out to lunch, be back next week