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Latest Brooks Laich Items
Braden Holtby doesn't have the heaviest workload among goaltenders around the NHL. He's not even in the top 10 in starts. But Holtby is undoubtedly the man for the Washington Capitals, having started 10 straight games. He's 7-2-1 with 2.25 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in that time.
Fourteenth in the Eastern Conference on March 20, the Southeast Division lead was nine points away and looked like an impossible dream. A little more than two weeks later, the Caps are in first place and in a playoff position for the first time all season by virtue of their 2-1 shootout victory over the New York Islanders.
George McPhee is either a genius who has been able to oversell or a schlub who got taken in a moment of delusion and mad desire to finally see his team make a real, live run at the Stanley Cup. We may know the answer in a couple of weeks. We may not know for a few years.
Pittsburgh acquired Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray to bolster its Stanley Cup hopes, but could adding veteran players to an established group create problems? Recent history in Washington suggests loading up at the trade deadline isn't a fool-proof plan.
Losing to the Islanders is one thing. It would be unacceptable for the Caps not to pick up points this weekend at the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers.
Several elements of the Caps' game will get some fine-tuning Thursday and Friday, including the NHL's No. 1-ranked power play. That unit went 0-for-3 in the loss to the Islanders.
Adam Oates knew it could be a problem. The Washington Capitals were playing their only home game sandwiched between seven on the road, against a New York Islanders team that can be easy to overlook. So when the Caps fell behind two goals in the first eight minutes it was no surprise. But when they erased the deficit in the second, the flat start was nothing but a memory.
Before Mike Ribeiro played a single game for the Capitals, he knew he wanted to stay in Washington for the long term. He moved to the area with his wife and three children after getting traded here from the Dallas Stars last summer, spending the balance of the NHL lockout putting down roots.
Adjusting to coach Adam Oates' system hasn't been a problem for Brooks Laich in his first four games, and the 29-year-old's presence has made the Caps look like an entirely different team. Playing with Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer, Laich has helped give Washington two lines that can score on any shift.