Lars Eller always looks like he's smelling something fowl.
The Caps’ On-Ice New Year’s Resolutions?
Every January 1st, people all over the world make resolutions for themselves. It’s a way to look inside oneself and change one thing for the better. Some people prevail, others fail. But the significance of it is to show that nobody’s perfect and with that one change, people can be better for not only themselves, but for others as well. Our friends over at the District Sports Page had the opportunity to ask some of the players about their personal new year’s resolutions. But what about their on-ice resolutions? Each player has at least one thing in their game that they want to work on and get better at. But since we didn’t get the chance to ask them, here are our suggestions:
Alex Ovechkin– Continue to be the number one scoring threat.
Caps fans have finally gotten their Christmas wish. After consecutive two-goal games against Buffalo and Columbus, it appears the old Eight the Great is back. Those performances have him in a four-way tie for 16th place for goals in the league and on pace for a 35 goal season. For the team to be successful, he needs to continue the trend that he is setting right now. The team knows he can do it, the fans know he can do it, and most importantly, he knows he can do it too.
Alex Semin– Keep out of the penalty box.
It’s amazing what can happen when Good Sasha comes out to play. Bad Sasha leads the team with an astounding 20 minor penalties, which coincidentally is the amount of points he has on the season. Over his last three games, Semin has racked up five points and zero penalty minutes. He’s currently third on the team for points per 60 minutes at 2.08. When he takes penalties, it can cause one to rip hair out of their head. However, when he doesn’t and can contribute on the scoring sheet, he’s arguably the best secondary scoring threat in the league. Here’s hoping he can continue down the road he’s on and help the team secure its fifth consecutive division championship.
Mike Green– Stay healthy.
It seems like Mike Green spends more time on injured reserve than on the ice. This year, Green was sidelined for six games for an ankle injury. When he returned on November 11th against the Devils, Green went down again with a groin injury and has not seen action since. He also missed chunks of time last season as well, especially the final 20 games of the regular season after taking a shot to the jaw by Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers, which aggravated a previous head injury. His absence has left a significant hole in the blueline. Although Dmitry Orlov has stepped up better than most Caps fans could’ve envisioned when he was first called up from Hershey, not having a perennial all-star in the lineup has proven costly for the Capitals at times. Having Green healthy for the remainder of the year will solidify the defensive corps and give the team another scoring option.
Brooks Laich– Continue to be a leader.
After signing a six year contract extension in the offseason, Laich has become a vocal leader for the Capitals this season. He’s been the one of the first players (besides Mike Knuble) to speak out about the team when they’ve played poorly. There have been rumblings from fans and bloggers alike (including myself) to make Laich a captain, if not THE captain. He’s also racked up 8 goals and 21 points on the third line, which has arguably been the Caps best line so far this season. Laich needs to continue to lead by example and to stand up and say something when the team plays poorly, but he also needs to produce on the ice (it’s hard to be the guy to call out the team for playing bad when you’re not doing anything to help the cause).
Michal Neuvirth– Keep developing.
The first half of this season has not treated Neuvy kindly at all. In 16 appearances (13 of which were starts), he has a 5-7-2 record, a 3.24 GAA, and boasts a .887 SV%. To illustrate how bad that save percentage is, it’s actually two thousandths of a percentage point better than the save percentage of Steve Mason of the Blue Jackets, which is currently sitting at .885. Neuvirth was expected to be the number one goalie coming into the season after the team tricked convinced Colorado to trade for Semyon Varlamov and give up their future a few draft picks. Even after George McPhee acquired Tomas Vokoun from free agency, ex-coach Bruce Boudreau was quoted as saying that Neuvirth and Vokoun would both be the number one goalies. So far, Neuvy has not played as well as everyone has hoped for. He needs to regain his confidence and find what helped lead the team into the playoffs last season. He has the best mentor he could possibly ask for in Vokoun. It’s imperative he continues to develop, overcome this adversity, and show the team and the fans why he is the future goaltender of this franchise.