After 13 games, the Washington Capitals are at a dismal 4-8-1, but have doubled their win total in the last two games, giving fans a hopeful feeling as they go forward with the 2012 season. It will be a difficult task, given that the season has been drastically shortened thanks to the lock-out that resulted in a work stoppage for the NHL, but Washington may be up for the challenge.
So far this season, it has not been Alexander Ovechkin, the face of the franchise, who has led the way. Although Ovechkin is instrumental in nearly every phase of the Capitals’ game plan, it has been Mike Ribeiro who has been making the biggest difference.
Along with Joel Ward, both Ovechkin and Ribeiro have five goals to their credit, but while Ward and Ovechkin each have five assists to their names, Ribeiro has racked up 12 assists. The willingness to set up the next person has earned the Capitals center a respectable 17 points, good for fourth among all players in the league.
Ribeiro’s production is not what you would expect from a team that sits at the absolute bottom of the Eastern Conference, but what may be more surprising is the way he is dominating the point total among his teammate, leading Ovechkin by 10 points and threatening to take over Alexander’s place as the face of the franchise.
It has been a nice stretch for Ribeiro, and we will see if he can keep it up over the course of the next month or two. If the Caps have any hopes of getting out of the basement in the east, they will need their center to continue playing at the level of excellence he has established. They will also need the rest of the team, including Ovechkin, to step up and play like they mean it. Ribeiro will not be able to do it on his own, and if he does not get help, then a terrific individual performance will be wasted on a losing effort for the team.