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Mike Ribeiro has been the best player for the Caps this season
Even though the Capitals are off to a very slow start, there are a few players who have shined early on. A few in particular are Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Mike Ribeiro.
How good have these three been? Ward and Brouwer are tied for the team lead in goals with five. Ribeiro is right behind them with four.
Ribeiro leads the team with 14 points. Ward is tied for second on the team with eight points. Brouwer is tied for third with seven points.
Ribeiro leads the team with 10 assists. Ward leads the team with a plus-five efficiency rating; Ribeiro is second with a plus-four. The three men combined are a plus-seven.
Only five members of the Caps have power-play goals this season and guess who three of them are. Ribeiro has three power-play goals on the season, Brouwer has two and Ward has one.
Ward's performance is perhaps the most surprising. Take a look at Ward's stats page from ESPN for a moment. Ward's career high in goals has been 17, which he accomplished in Nashville during the 2008-2009 season. With five goals in the first twelve games, he would be on pace for a staggering 34 if the Caps were playing an 82-game schedule. He would also be on pace for a career high in points with 54.
As it stands, even with a 48-game schedule, Ward is still on pace for an astonishing 20 goals, a career high.
The hero of Game 7 against the Boston Bruins last spring has been playing as hard as anyone on the Caps and it is hard to find much to complain about as far as Joel Ward is concerned.
Troy Brouwer really stepped it up against the Florida Panthers on Saturday night with two goals, including the game winner. The second goal was a fantastic power-play tally off a great feed from Braden Holtby. It was the highlight goal of the season for the Caps so far.
Like Ward, Brouwer would be on pace for 34 goals if an 82-game schedule was being played. Like Ward, that would be a career high for Brouwer. As it stands, he is on pace for 20 goals in this shortened season, which would be the second-highest total for his career.
The only complaint one can make with Brouwer is his minus-two efficiency rating. But one cannot fault Brouwer's effort. He has been trying as hard as anyone to right the ship.
But if you are looking for consistent hard work and effort on a night in and night out basis, then you have to be impressed with Mike Ribeiro.
Ribeiro came to the Caps on Draft Day 2012 when George McPhee cut a deal with the Dallas Stars whereby the Caps got Ribeiro in exchange for Cody Eakin and the 54th pick in the draft (Washington Times).
The hope was that Ribeiro could come in and be the second-line center that the Caps had been looking for ever since Sergei Fedorov went back to Russia.
Mission accomplished—and then some.
No player on the Caps has been as solid as Ribeiro this season. He scores goals, he wins faceoffs, he assists, he plays hard every night. He has done it all for the Caps through the first quarter of the season.
He would currently be on pace for 27 goals this season, which would match a career high. He would also be on pace for career highs in assists with 68 and points with 95.
As it stands with the shortened season, the man known as Ribs is still on pace for 16 goals, 40 assists and a 56-point season. It is hard to complain about that.
Despite the bad start to the first quarter of the season, the exceptional play of Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Mike Ribeiro is definitely something about which Caps fans can feel very good.