Washington Capitals Early Season Stock Report
The Washington Capitals are seven games into this 48 game season and currently own a record of 1-5-1, for a mere three points in the standings.
Now would be a good time for an early season analysis of several members of this team. And to mix it up a little, we will perform this analysis in the form of a stock report.
We will look at seven Washington Capitals players—four forwards, two defenders and one goalie—and give them a grade based on whether their stock is rising, falling, or steady.
Here is the Washington Capitals early season stock report.
F Alex Ovechkin: FALLING
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Before Thursday night's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto, Alex Ovechkin's stock was very, very low.
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis stated as much on WTOP's "Ask the Owner" on January 30:
We're concerned too. And I'm not sure scoring is going to be an issue, but it has been to date. Alex is off to a slow start, and I’m surprised because he did go play in the KHL. But he’s having to get integrated into this new system. We put him on the right side, and now he’s back on the left side. He needs to play better. I don't have the answers, obviously; I’m not running the hockey operations. But if I did, if I knew what to do, I would go see Adam and George.
In the first game after those blunt comments from his boss, Alex Ovechkin scored a goal against the Leafs. It was only his second of the season, with both goals coming on the power play. But late in the game, Ovechkin had a rare miss of an open net, on what would have been the game-tying goal.
The new Alex Ovechkin is not quite the Alex Ovechkin of old.
F Mike Ribeiro: STEADY
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This is exactly what the Washington Capitals expected when they traded for Mike Ribeiro.
Through January 31, Ribeiro has done just that, and more. The 13-year veteran leads the Capitals with eight points, better than a point per game.
Mike Ribeiro has been nothing but steady for the Capitals so far this season.
F Joel Ward: RISING
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Joel Ward is on fire.
The winger scored twice in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Since then, he has added two more goals, including one on January 31 against the Maple Leafs in his hometown of Toronto.
Amazingly, Ward's four goals have come on only 13 shots.
F Marcus Johansson: FALLING
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So much for a breakout season.
Marcus Johansson has regressed along his career track during this lockout-shortened season. Through Thursday night's game, MoJo had three shots on goal, zero points and a team-worst plus-minus rating of minus-six.
Johansson's play has been so poor that he has been a healthy scratch twice, playing in only five of the Capitals' seven games thus far.
And when he does play, he does not actually play very much. Johansson currently has an average time on ice (ATOI) of 14:09, the worst of his three-year career.
D Mike Green: STEADY
It's one thing to know what Mike Green is capable of doing on the ice. It's another thing entirely to see him do it for the first time in three seasons.
Green has a plus-minus rating of minus-one, with only four penalty minutes.
John Erskine: RISING
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John Erskine is finally playing on a regular basis again, and he has rewarded head coach Adam Oates for this decision.
Erskine is second among Capitals' defenders with two points—and he was scratched for the first three games of the season.
Once John Erskine entered the lineup, he has played a lot of hockey. Through four games, he has an ATOI of 19:53. If he sustains that, it would be the highest of his 11-year career.
G Michal Neuvirth: RISING
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Adam Oates planned to platoon the two Washington goalies this season. But Michal Neuvirth has ruined that plan.
Braden Holtby got the first two starts of the season. With very little help from his defense, Holtby quickly fell to 0-2-0 with a 5.04 GAA and a .863 save percentage.
For the third game of the season, Adam Oates switched to Michal Neuvirth, which he may have done regardless of Holtby's performance. But Neuvirth played so well since a poor initial start against Montreal that Oates has yet to switch back to Holtby.
Michal Neuvirth has gotten the last five starts of the season. He is now 1-3-1, with a 2.97 GAA and a .899 save percentage.
Even Braden Holtby understands why Oates has stuck with Michal Neuvirth, as he told Katie Carrera of The Washington Post:
I haven’t been around for too long, but long enough to understand it, and right now Neuvy’s playing very well and deserves to play. I obviously want to play every game. If either of us had it our way, we’d play every game. I obviously understand that we want to get some stability to our game right now and Michal’s giving it to us. That’s just the life of being a goaltender.