Who's HOT & Who's COLD 12-27-2013

Posted on December 27, 2013 by Bryan Adams

Nicklas Backstrom

Photo Credit: Washington Capitals

As we all know, athletes have their ups and downs throughout any given season and hot streaks can go cold in an instant. Being a step late on defense or missing a wide open net from the doorstep can wreak havoc on a players psyche. This weekly installment to Talk The Red  features the clear front runners for both the hot and cold list, as well as groups or individuals who may be getting overlooked due to past production or players who are quietly doing the dirty work. Let's dive right in.

The Capitals are holding strong in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division with 42 points, 4 ahead of both the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers. Let's take a look at who's been hot & who's been cold over the past 6 games for the Caps.

Disclaimer: I chose to leave Ovi off the list all together for this edition simply because we all know how on fire he's been. It's time to let some of the other guys shine this week! If you remember from the previous installment; Ovi, Backstrom and rookie netminder Phillip Grubauer made the "HOT List", while Mike Green, Marcus Johannson and Martin Erat made up the naughty list.

HOT

Nicklas Backstrom: #19 for the boy's rocking the red has been getting points left and right lately and I don't see him cooling down anytime soon. To put it simply, Backstrom has been amazing.  He has 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) over his past 6 games and has recently passed Ovechkin as the team's leading point producer.  Backstrom is starting to garner a ton of national attention (And rightfully so) as he sits 4th in the NHL in points (42) and 3rd in the league in helpers (33).  We all know how important he is to this team and it's about time the rest of the league took notice as well.  #19 has never been the outspoken type or demanding of the spotlight, but his play this season is thrusting him into it nonetheless. Backstrom is one of only 13 players averaging at least a point per game over the past 5 seasons so the rest of the country is a little late to the party we've been relishing since he burst onto the DC sports scene.

Troy Brouwer: Finally! Brouwer has been mostly MIA this season along with the entire 2nd line, but #20 has started heating up as of late. He has 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) over the Caps past 6 contests, giving him a modest 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) on the season.  Brouwer has also been steadily improving his puck possession as well as his plus/minus rating.  His recent play has helped get the 2nd line back on track as they've been producing points almost as often as the dynamic duo of Ovechkin and Backstrom, which leads me to the 3rd and final spot on the "HOT List".

Mikhail Grabovski and Eric Fehr: Brouwer's linemates look like the two most deserving of what has been a revolving door on the 2nd line this year. Fehr looks to have solidified himself as an everyday player instead of the healthy scratch he was to start the year. He works every bit as hard as the 4th line grinders, but has made the most of his opportunities in the 28 games he's appeared in so far this season. #16 has 3 assists and a goal over his past 6 games and is on pace for roughly 40 points this season which would be a career high for the 28 year old. Grabovski (11 goals, 18 assists) is the best Capitals player not on the first line and has been on a tear with 2 goals and an assist over his past 4 games after missing two games due to the flu. Now that the 2nd line finally clicking on all cylinders, look for all 3 players to continue getting points, controlling the puck and gaining even more confidence from Head Coach Adam Oates.

Honorable Mention this week goes to Phillip Grubauer. The rookie has played so well of late that he kept his spot on the big league roster even after Holtby's backup, Michal Neuvirth was cleared to play. Grubauer has even continued out-playing starter Braden Holtby and getting the start in 4 of the Capitals' last 6 games, going 2-1-1. 

NOT

Jason Chimera:  Chimera has just 1 point over the past two weeks and therefore has earned this week's top spot on the "NOT List". The man works too hard to keep missing empty net and tap in goals from the doorstep. There's no doubt that Chimera has the speed and talent to be a major contributor on the Capitals, but repeatedly failing to capitalize on the opportunities he's been afforded will get him nowhere. His -3 rating over the past two weeks also adds to him taking the top unwanted spot on this list.  I don't expect Chimera to stay on the bottom half of the list for very long, but until he starts lighting the lamp and getting the easy goals opponents keep giving him, this is where he stays.  Get it together #25!

Marcus Johansson:  MOJO holds fast in the #2 spot for the second straight week.  Since I put out the APB two weeks ago, MOJO has shown glimpses of what we all expect from the guy on the top line not named Ovechkin or Backstrom.  He has 2 goals and 5 points over the previous 6 games, but after being as nonexistent as he was, he still needs to show me more consistency if he wants off the naughty list. He's an excellent passer and has finally started shooting the puck more frequently, but again, he's yet to show me and the fans that he can do it on a day in day out basis. Playing on the same line as two bonafide superstars, odds are Johannson will be open more often than not, leading to plenty of opportunities for the young Swede.

Braden Holtby: Braden has played just twice over the past two weeks and it hasn't been particularly pretty.  He has failed to earn his team a victory (0-1-1) and gave up 5 goals in each contest in which he appeared. With Grubauer playing as well as he has been, Adam Oates has decided to ride the hot hand of late. If Holtby wants to prevent a goalie competition from taking place he needs to get back to the Holtby we’ve all grown to love.  He makes flashy, big time saves look like he can do it in his sleep, but that's also the problem.  He lets in soft goals almost nightly.  There's something to be said about a player who relishes the big stage and seems to play his best when the team needs him the most, but we haven't seen the "Holtbeast" in quite some time.  All in all, I think Grubauer coming in and playing like he has will turn out to be exactly what Holtby needed to re-focus and get his mind right.  I don't expect him to be on this list for long and he should return to form after having a little pressure put on him by the rookie netminder.

Honorable Mention goes to Mike Green, who has just 3 points (1 goal, 2 asissts) and a +1 rating over the past 6 contests which I hope means he is concentrating a little more on his defensive play lately. He's been on the "NOT List" every week this far so I figured I'd give the guy a break in this installment. Until Green becomes more consistent on both sides of the puck, he won't be cracking the "HOT List" any time soon.

After 3 days off for Christmas the Caps host the Rangers tonight at 7pm on CSN. This is a huge game for both teams as the Caps look to widen the gap between the 3rd place rivals from New York.  As Always, feel free to leave comments or suggestions on who you think has been Hot or Not.


Follow me on Twitter @Bryan_Adams06 and @Talk The Red

next up:

NHL Christmas Break Update

December 26, 2013

The NHL took a 3-day break from action. Let's check out some noteworthy trends through the Caps' first 37 games.

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