The Hottest and Coldest Washington Capitals Right Now
All hockey teams go through hot and cold spells, but right now the Washington Capitals are in a polar vortex.
The Caps have lost three straight games in regulation and five straight overall while compiling a 2-5-3 record in their last 10 games. They are 22-19-8 for 52 points and have fallen to fifth in the Metropolitan Division standings.
But what about the Washington players? Which ones are going through hot and cold spells?
Here are the hottest and coldest Washington Capitals right now. Normally, three players would be listed for each category (hot, hotter, hottest; cold, colder, coldest), but the team is so frigid right now that there is only one "hottest" player. Additionally, each player is listed with his stats for the month of January.
Hottest: Alex Ovechkin, RW
Alex Ovechkin got January off to a good start, beginning the month with a four-game point-scoring streak. He also scored a goal in two consecutive games later in the month, with one of those goals coming against rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 15.
He remained disciplined as well. He has a minus-one rating for the month and has accrued only three minor penalties. Both are major accomplishments for the Capitals captain, as he has a team-worst plus/minus rating of minus-16 and is second worst on the team with 17 minor penalties.
The 28-year-old winger also continued to produce on the power play. Ovechkin increased his league-leading total of power-play goals to 13 with the Capitals' lone strike against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers on Jan. 19.
Unfortunately for Washington, Ovechkin is the team's only hot player at this time, and not even he has been able to thaw out his frostbitten teammates.
Cold: Nicklas Backstrom, C
Nicklas Backstrom had a decent first two weeks of January. He began the month with a four-game point-scoring streak, just like frequent linemates Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson.
But he was held without a point in the next two games. And then came the game against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 15. Backstrom was held without a point again while also recording a minus-three rating in a game that the Caps lost 4-3 in regulation. That's not good.
He did not record another point until Jan. 19 against the New York Rangers, but he also recorded a minus-two rating. The Caps lost 4-1 for their fifth straight defeat.
If Backstrom does not heat up soon, the losing streak may get worse.
Colder: Eric Fehr, LW
In the wake of this performance, Katie Carrera of The Washington Post asked Adam Oates about his versatile winger: "He’s got a great skill set offensively. Every little situation that I've asked him to do he’s responded and had some success. I've been very happy for him and he’s been very good for us."
Oates must have jinxed him. Fehr has failed to record a single point since that game against Tampa Bay. Included in that stretch were three consecutive games where he recorded a minus rating.
Coldest: Philipp Grubauer, G
It says a lot about the current state of the Capitals that Philipp Grubauer is their coldest player at the moment.
The 22-year-old rookie from Germany has been impressive, which prompted me to predict on Dec. 31 that he will become the Capitals' No. 1 goalie by the end of the season.
But he recently showed us that he is, in fact, human.
He was again chased from the net in the very next game on Jan. 19 against the New York Rangers. This time, he allowed three goals on only eight shots and did not survive the first period.
These two games represent the first two times in Grubauer's nascent NHL career that he has been relieved of his duties before completing the game. They also represent the end of the honeymoon for this up-and-coming goaltending prospect from the perspective of Capitals fans.