Friday, March 1, 2013

Injuries, acquisitions, and the LW mystery

Since the embarrassing loss to the Flyers the Caps have made some changes and the injury bug seems to be inevitable for Mike Green. Mike Green played his first game Wednesday after sitting out 3 games and reinjured his groin, so that he will not be playing tomorrow against the Winnipeg Jets. We have seen this injury with Mike Green in the past and don’t turn out well for the Capitals. There is no timetable for his return. This means that Jeff Schultz or Roman Hamrlik will step in his place; my money is on Schultz getting the start. Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson, and Dmitry Orlov remain sidelined with injuries too with no timetables. Johansson is the only one that is recovering and skating consistently with the Caps. Laich hasn’t skated since February 16th and Orlov is still out indefinitely.  
Yesterday the Caps picked up forward Aaron Volpatti off of waivers from the Vancouver Canucks. He is a tough left winger who isn’t afraid of dropping the mitts, but will not be an offensive threat for Washington. This season for the Canucks he has 4 fights in 16 games and 1 goal. George McPhee is obviously looking for a 4th line spark of some toughness and grit making this move. Adam Oates stated today that Volpatti will be in the lineup tomorrow against the Jets which means a LW has to be scratched. The rumors in the Caps media today seem to think it will be Wojtek Wolski who has 2 goals this season, and hasn’t scored in a month. Despite his recent struggles I would not scratch Wolski because he is due for a goal. We will see if Volpatti can help the Caps build some momentum in Winnipeg. He will be wearing #24 tomorrow.
The Caps also sent down goaltender Philipp Grubauer and forward Casey Wellman to Hershey yesterday. Michal Neuvirth is feeling better and the acquisition of Volpatti is the reason for the demotion of the two players. It is safe to say this will not the last we will be seeing of Grubauer at the NHL level after his short lived stint with the Capitals. He showed great promise and composure in net and will continue to succeed at Hershey until his time comes. Braden Holtby will make his 9th straight start tomorrow in net after being pulled mid-game on Wednesday. In my opinion 3 of the 4 goals he could do nothing about, so he should be able to bounce back in Winnipeg tomorrow.
Finally the mystery of the LW spot on the top line continues. As I had predicted Jason Chimera will no longer accompanying Mike Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin anymore because of his lack of production. Adam Oates has decided to go with Matt Hendricks on the top line for this upcoming game. Nothing against Hendricks, but while he may have the speed and determination, he lacks the skill to be a top 6 forward. You would think that someone would want to step up and grab the spot with Laich and Johansson out, but a player has yet to prove worthy. Johansson, Wolski, Chimera, and now Hendricks are among the players who have had their shot with the top line this season. Maybe Hendy will prove us wrong.
4 Things to Look For In Winnipeg
·         Alex Ovechkin will tickle the twine for his 9th goal of the season. He’s been scoreless in the 2 games since his hat trick and the Caps will need him against this divisional foe

·         Aaron Volpatti will drop the mitts for the 5th time this season, 1st with the Caps to show them that he can bring some momentum to this struggling team.

·         Braden Holtby will get back on track for his 7th win of the season.

·         Eric Fehr will log some kind of point in his return to Winnipeg to show them what they’re missing.

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