The respect the Capitals had for Hendricks wasn't mutually shared with O'Brien.
Monday Poll: Which Capital Has Been The Most Surprising?
Braden Holtby’s new job as of late: Backup. (Caps Outsider)
Sadly, the 2013-14 NHL season is more than half-way over, and like every season, it’s had its fair share of surprises. The Caps aren’t immune to the change that each year holds. Now that a full 45 games have come and gone, how have the Capitals held up against the throes of the ever fluctuating National Hockey League? Which of your Washington Capitals have been the biggest surprise so far, for better or worse? Which has been either unexpectedly phenomenal or heart-wrenchingly terrible? Read the descriptions below and choose one answer.
For the Better
Tom Wilson: In his rookie season, Wilson has been arguably one of the hardest working rookies in the league. He has emerged as a fourth-line fixture, and the team’s undoubted enforcer, clocking in 92 PIMs. Though a forward, Wilson has the brawn and grit of a defenseman, and satisfies the type of physical play Washington has needed in recent years.
Philipp Grubauer: In his first full season with the Capitals, Grubauer provides the depth in goaltending that the Capital’s now need during Holtby’s slump. Though he’s only played 13 games, the previous back-up to the back-up has emerged as a quiet star. His .934 SV% and tiny 2.16 GAA show that Grubauer is a safe and sturdy shelter in the wake of Storm Braden.
Joel Ward: An underrated right wing, Ward is 33 but still on track for a high scoring season. He adds to the power play, contributes to a dangerous 3rd line, and oh…did we mention he’s currently second in goals? First if you don’t count Ovi (who could catch up to that guy).
Mikhail Grabovski: Free agents are always tricky. Will they produce the way they did for their previous team? Will they take the money and settle down into a nice little slump? Grabovski has been a pleasant surprise for the Capitals. The product of a buy-out, Grabovski seems out to prove his worth and boasts 12 goals and 32 points so far this season.
For the Worse
John Erskine: Though only 33, unlike Ward, John Erskine seems to be at the end of the road. Though a d-man to be respected for his work over the years, Erskine is slipping up as of late. Amidst a display of stick drops and turnovers, Erskin has one of the highest GA/20 in the league. Though he is on ice for a lesser percentage of time than his fellow Caps blue liners, opponents seem to double their scoring rate against him.
Braden Holtby: Though his lackluster goaltending has only extended for a few games, if January 5th’s game against the Wild is any indication (he stopped 6 of 11 shots…do the math), Holtby is headed down a dark and dangerous road. He’s still the Caps’ number one guy, but for how long?