Author: James O'Brien

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom

Are the Capitals still just a ‘one-line team?’


The Washington Capitals seem to face an all-too-familiar situation.

The good news is that Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are on a tear with Ovechkin leading the league in scoring (73 points) and Backstrom tied for second with 72. Capitals blog Japers Rink’ trots out some interesting new ways to express thoughts like “Yes, Ovechkin’s by far the best player in the NHL when it comes to scoring goals.”

There are great things to be said about Backstrom, too, but Japers’ Rink also provides a familiar “Yeah, but ..” in the fact that, after all these changes, the Capitals may rely on their dynamic duo too much.

Indeed, looking at the Capitals’ top forward scorers, the picture looks remarkably similar to 2013-14, aside from the fact that Ovechkin and Backstrom are producing at a better clip.

2014-15 scoring leaders:

Ovechkin – 73 points
Backstrom – 72 points
John Carlson, a defenseman – 47 points
Marcus Johansson and Mike Green – tied at 39 points

2013-14 scoring leaders:

Ovechkin and Backstrom – tied at 79 points
Joel Ward – 49 points
Johansson – 44 points

Look, in a salary cap league, it’s tough to put a team together that won’t see a drop-off from players at the level of Ovechkin and Backstrom. And yes, it at least helps that they’re enjoying contributions from an improved defense.

Still, when you look at some of the league’s most successful teams, they often enjoy strong depth and obvious one-two punches. When Jonathan Toews’ line was ailing, the Chicago Blackhawks could count on Patrick Kane to make magic happen (before he got injured, of course). The Los Angeles Kings saw Jeff Carter light up scoreboards alongside Anze Kopitar’s line.

The way Ovechkin and Backstrom’s playing, it seems like their line can create a goal or two per night. That said, if they make it to the playoffs and a team finds a way to slow them down, will Washington get the offense it needs from other forwards?

Why Anders Lindback may become one of ‘the most reviled Sabres ever’

Anders Lindback

When Anders Lindback was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, sarcastic folks deemed it a perfect marriage: a deeply struggling goalie on a team that essentially wants to struggle.

Of course, Lindback doesn’t want to struggle; he wants to save his NHL career, and if he does a good job of that, things will get interesting … and maybe a little hostile.

The Buffalo News argues that Lindback could become one of “the most reviled Sabres ever” on the heels of Tuesday’s dazzling performance in a win.

The second-best stretch of Lindback’s career has Buffalo hockey fans cursing him in the name of Connor McDavid. The goalie stole three points this week that never should have been in Buffalo’s bank. If he keeps it up for the final 12 games, 30th place might become a thing of the past.

At any other time in Sabres history, Lindback would be a triumphant feel-good story. Instead, he’ll enter the crease Friday against New Jersey or Saturday in Nashville with Blue and Gold backers begging for him to fail.

In stopping 44 of the Boston Bruins’ 45 shots in that surprising win, Lindback grabbed his first victory with Buffalo. One win seemingly doesn’t justify hand-wringing, yet it’s remarkable how much his individual stats have improved since being moved. Just look at this comparison:

10 games with the Dallas Stars: 2-8-0, .875 save percentage, 3.71 GAA
Seven games with Buffalo: 1-3-2, .934 save percentage, 2.41 GAA

That basically looks like the work of a bad goalie in 1985 and the work of a great goalie in 2015, side-by-side.

As the Buffalo News notes, this would normally be a heartwarming situation, but instead it’s a cause for concern.

Then again, if Buffalo gets worried, they could always just “test the rotation” by playing Lindback less often, right?

This all brings about a question for Sabres fans in the audience: who is the most reviled member of the team (past or present) in your mind?

PHT Morning Skate: Odes to CapGeek’s founder, Price’s selfie pal gives him a letter

Carey Price,
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Philadelphia Flyers held a closed-door meeting following their latest lose. Hopefully no one brought up an NHL standings page. (

Good stuff about how Carey Price’s selfie pal became his pen pal. (Global

Why “only x points back” type observations can often be misleading during playoff races:

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To little surprise, many members of the hockey community shared their thoughts on Matthew Wuest, CapGeek’s creator who passed away on Thursday.

The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle had probably the lengthiest account, and it’s worth a read on his old blog (which still provides rushes of nostalgia for those of us who followed the Mirtle blog many moons ago). I provided my condolences at Rotoworld, which admittedly only compliments some of the observations from around the hockey web: