Just when you thought Braden Holtby might be getting his act together he goes and gets rocked by the Blue Jackets. At least Philipp Grubauer is in the minors again so you know Holtby is going to be getting the bulk of the starts until at least the Olympic break. After that, the playoff race tightens up and the Caps have no choice but to ride the hot hand. Whoever happens to have it at that point.
I'll never understand why the Caps decided to start messing about with Holtby's mechanics but odds are we won't know if it was successful until next season because this season feels lost. The Caps aren't a particularly good team anyhow and now with a starter fighting to establish new mechanics and build up his confidence, well that leads to ugly losses like last night.
Alex Ovechkin skated nearly 10 minutes of power play time but was held off the score sheet and went an ugly minus-five.
I have Ovechkin and Mike Green in one pool and I was heartened to see the defensive sieve Green had somehow avoided any minuses in the slaughter but was quickly crushed when I realized it was only because he'd gotten hurt. Upon watching the replay it looked to me like a C-word. Apparently he returned to the bench but left shortly after, no doubt experiencing concussion-like symptoms because, you know, why call it like it is. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they labelled it an upper-body injury.
Green's injury launched John Carlson back onto the top power play unit. Last time he was handed this opportunity he pissed it away. I can't say I'm optimistic about his chances this time around but he warrants time back on your radar.
Caps rookie Tom Wilson is putting together an impressive rotisserie season. He sits tied for third in the NHL in PIM and is tied for 50th in Hits. His scoring (or lack thereof) is reflective of his minimal playing time but he's still making himself an effective fantasy player. I definitely think he has potential to become one of those Scott Hartnell/Milan Lucic types, especially if he can work his way up to the front of the net on the Caps' loaded power play. They'd have to be ready to move on from Troy Brouwer though, which isn't all that tall a task I suppose.
Brouwer is interesting in his own right. He's a big body with a little bit of scoring touch. He's far from consistent though. He has skated on two loaded teams in Chicago and now Washington but still has just a career high of 40 points. Last season he flashed what could happen if all comes together. His prorated total would have been 57 points for the season but alas it had to come together in a shortened one. Opportunity missed.
Back to Wilson though. I find it interesting that the Caps are willing to use him as their enforcer. After all, he is a former first rounder. It seems to me that this is a bit of a waste of resources but I guess he wouldn't be in the league if he hadn't carved out a role even though it's not the role they necessarily had planned for him when they drafted him.
I'm glad the Blue Jackets found their way to reunite the Matthew Calvert – Brandon Dubinsky – Cam Atkinson line because it's a great one. There is quite a bit of speed, tenacity and hockey sense on that line with some intriguing underrated pieces.
Calvert, an old Jeff Ang