The Most Disappointing Washington Capitals so Far in 2013-14
Despite some brief stretches of brilliance, the Washington Capitals' 2013-14 campaign has seen the team turn in a rather inconsistent effort over the course of the season's first 28 games.
Obviously, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward have all enjoyed particularly strong starts, but at the same time, a number of key players have struggled to make an impact on a nightly basis.
There's too much talent on the roster for Adam Oates' squad to hover around .500, and there are some highly paid cogs that need to do more as the season wears on.
With more than a third of Caps' schedule in the books, here's a look at which Capitals have disappointed the most thus far.
As one of the Caps' assistant captains and key emotional leaders, Brooks Laich is counted upon to contribute on a regular basis.
Under Bruce Boudreau, Laich managed a trio of 20-goal campaigns and two seasons with 53 points or more, but that seems like ages ago, as the former second-rounder has regressed statistically in a couple of ways.
Firstly, the 30-year-old's offensive production is way down, as Laich has just four goals and six points in 25 games in 2013-14, which is a big step down from the sort of numbers he used to record.
In addition, Laich's .447 percentage on draws is particularly troubling, as is his lackluster minus-nine rating, and he's on pace for career-worst totals in both categories.
There is no doubting that Martin Erat's been misused by Adam Oates at times, but as a player who has consistently put up 50-60 points a year for roughly a decade, the former Nasvhille first-liner has been a disappointment this season.
At times, the former Czech Olympian has looked like the skilled winger who served as the Predators' most dangerous offensive threat, but his one goal during his 38 total contests with the Caps is clearly a concern.
Erat's got all the tools to be a top-six forward on virtually any team, even if his numbers when skating alongside top-flight players haven't been great with Washington.
Luckily, it sounds like the Capitals intend on accommodating the two-way winger's recent trade request, so hopefully both sides will benefit when and if that gets done.
Last season, Troy Brouwer was Washington's top sniper not named Alex Ovechkin, so expectations were high for the 2010 Stanley Cup champ coming into 2013-14.
Unfortunately, like his running mate Laich, Brouwer's offensive output is far behind his usual clip, as the 28-year-old has just five goals and nine points thus far after notching 19 goals and 33 points during the lockout-shortened campaign.
Last year's totals were well over his career-best figures in both goals and points per game, but the hard-charging winger's found it difficult to get things done offensively this season.
Brouwer's a regular fixture on the power play, and he's more than earned his spot in the Caps' top six, but for Washington to be successful, he's got to score more.
After suiting up for all 48 of the Capitals' tilts last season, defensive forward Jay Beagle has decidedly regressed in 2013-14 and has apparently lost the confidence of Oates and the coaching staff.
On the positive side, Beagle's success on draws is undeniable, but it seems that his lack of offensive production has cost him a spot in the lineup.
No, Beagle's not counted upon to carry the mail when the Caps are on offense, but especially during Dale Hunter's reign as head coach, the 28-year-old appeared to be a much more vital component of Washington's top 12.
He's only gotten the call for eight games this year, and with zero points and a minus-two rating to date, it'll take a lot of injuries for Beagle to receive a regular opportunity to get on the ice on a nightly basis.