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?