Washington Capitals Have Found Their Second Line Center

+Read full article
Mikhail Grabovski
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2013-14 season, the Washington Capitals had some doubts regarding who would be their second line center for the entirety of the season.  After all they had just signed Mikhail Grabovski to a one-year deal, but with Brooks Laich still on the books there would always be some doubt whenever the Belarusian struggled in the least bit.

After their first game of the season it appears that any doubts should be put to rest, as Grabovski scored three goals and contributed an assist in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. During the game he showed an ability to perform both when each team was even and when on the power play, in turn bringing a large amount of value to the Capitals.

During his time playing on the even side of the ice, Grabovski was a force in all three periods on both the offensive and defensive sides of the puck.  After contributing one goal and looking like a threat every time he touched the puck it was clear that whatever went wrong during the 2012-13 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs has gone by the wayside.  Meanwhile, he showed some fight in the defensive side of the ice which has also been missing in past years, and that will be extremely crucial as the Capitals look to build a team that can play deep into the playoffs.

While Grabovski played extremely well at even strength he truly made his name on the power play, contributing two goals and one assist in 3:29 on the power play.  During this time he showed that he is extremely capable of bringing in the secondary scoring punch that was largely missing last season, as outside of Mike Green and Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals had no true threat shooting the puck on the power play.  Establishing this extra threat through the use of Grabovski on the power play will surely make it much more difficult to target Green and Ovechkin and in turn make the Capitals’ top ranked power play even more efficient during the 2013-14 season.

In the end it is clear that Grabovski has what it takes to become an adequate threat when the game is even strength and an absolute star on the power play after his opening night effort.  In fact if he is able to keep up anything close to the effort from Tuesday night it appears as if the Capitals have found one of the best second line centers in all of the NHL.

Tyler Leli is a Washington Capitals writer for Rant Sports.  Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or join his network on Google.