Only three games into the regular season, it’s too early to tell which players will be at the top of the Washington Capitals‘ scoring chart at the end of the 2013-14 NHL season. However, I doubt that the five currently leading in points will change much between now and April.
Alex Ovechkin (just named as the NHL’s First Star of the Week) has six points, including four goals. Next is Mikhail Grabovski with five points, followed by Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson with four points each. This little group has a combined shots total of 48—that’s 50 percent of the team’s total shot count.
The Capitals still have some issues to iron out, especially when it comes to turnovers. However, once every aspect of their game falls into place, they may prove to be unstoppable.
Ovechkin began this regular season how he ended the last—on fire. This is the Ovechkin of old, showing the passion he brought to his first few seasons in the NHL. He’s all over the ice, creating chances and noticeably fanning on shots a lot less than usual. He’s making solid contact and shooting at will—averaging eight shots per game already. He’s on pace for a 60-goal season.
Grabovski is a welcome addition to the club and has already appeased himself to any Caps fan who was still grumbling about the team’s decision to allow Mike Ribeiro to go to the Phoenix Coyotes during free agency. Grabovski is able to hang out in the crease on power plays, providing an excellent screen, and he’s also there to deflect in a goal or two. I see him staying in the top five of the Caps’ points table all season.
Green, Backstrom and Johansson are up to their old tricks—acquiring the lion’s share of assists with 11 between them over three games. They’ll continue in that vein throughout the term, and Green will add a bunch of goals to his tally too.
Backstrom has proved over the years that he’s an ideal provider for Ovechkin. Each of these men seems to know where the other guy is at all times, and that kind of synergy makes for a successful team. Coach Adam Oates has played Johansson alongside Ovechkin and Backstrom on his top line, and they’ve been producing the goods so far.
The other lines must start producing more—but they will. Troy Brouwer, Jason Chimera and Brooks Laich are all capable of emulating the best on the team and have proved it during past seasons.
Even though they have a 1-2-0 record, the Caps weren’t this good at the beginning of last season. It won’t be long before we see them score six or seven in an October game. For now, Ovechkin is leading his team by example. When he’s on fire, the team is too. Always.