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Tarik's three stars: Tom Wilson makes an impact with his offense, not his fists

Tarik's three stars: Tom Wilson makes an impact with his offense, not his fists

Tom Wilson arrived in Boston with no goals in nine games.

The rugged Caps’ winger left Beantown with a pair, however, after helping the visitors to a 3-2 victory on Saturday night. The win was Washington’s second in a row, third in four games and 10th straight over Brad Marchand and the Bruins.

Tarik’s three stars for the game:

1-Wilson, Capitals

Wilson’s first goal came off a short angle rebound that he roofed over Tuukka Rask to open the scoring. His second was a high slot redirection of a Brooks Orpik point shot with 70 seconds remaining in the second period that put the Caps ahead 3-1. Early in the third period, Wilson had a shorthanded breakaway that just missed. The Chandler Stephenson—Lars Eller—Wilson line racked up two goals and two assists, one game after putting up six points in a 4-3 win over the Islanders.   

2-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Holtby could probably get a star on most nights when the Caps win. But he was especially exceptional vs. the Bs. He finished with 31 saves, including a number of Grade A stops. His best save, in fact, came just a few minutes into the game when he extended his left pad to turn away Austin Czarnik on a semi breakaway. That’s three straight strong starts for Holtby, who was outstanding against the Islanders and Oilers, as well.

3-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

No. 8 got stopped on a clean breakaway in the first period, but he would not be denied. Ovechkin sniped a one-timer from his office moments later to put the Caps ahead 2-0. The goal was the Caps’ captain’s first in six games and it included helpers from his Russian buddies, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.

Agree? Disagree? Make your argument in the comments.

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues


NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

A Capitals team that struggles after lengthy breaks is now indeed struggling after its return from the bye week. Since returning on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, the Caps have lost three straight games including two at home with only two points to show for their efforts.

Heading into the bye, Washington looked like one of the top teams in the NHL with 14 wins in 19 games. Now, they have taken a step back and are working at returning to the level they were playing just a week ago.


Oh, and to make matters worse, the Caps do not play again until Thursday and then are off for the All-Star break.

It's Jan. 22 and Washington has only two more games this month. Even if they do figure things out on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, they will have to figure it out all over again when they return from the All-Star break on Jan. 31 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

So where do the Caps rank after their recent slide and how far could they fall if they do not right the ship? Find out here in this week's NHL Power Rankings!

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again


Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

It was a bit of a surprise to see Jakub Vrana in the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers. On Saturday in practice, Barry Trotz mixed his lines up and it appeared that Vrana would be the odd-man out. On Sunday, however, when the team took to the ice for warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Vrana lined up on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly.

Did the near scratch spark Vrana to more production? Not exactly.


Vrana played a career-low 6:25 against the Flyers. He had zero shot attempts or hits. There were only two stats on his stat line from the final box score: One giveaway and one drawn penalty.

Despite that, Trotz was complimentary of the 21-year-old forward following the game.

"What I like about Jake, he competed," Trotz said. "I know he doesn't have the minutes tonight, but he competed and that's what the message was. I met with him this morning and a little bit on the ice the other day and I just said the skill doesn't come out unless that level of desperation and compete is there night in, night out and then you'll have production. He didn't get a lot of ice time, but I was happy with his effort."

Trotz said Vrana's ice time was low because he the team was "hard matching" later in the game against Philadelphia. It was not because of how he played.


But ultimately, the key is to get Vrana producing again and the fourth line is not the best place to spark that. Vrana has only one point in his last 12 games which is why it seemed to make sense that he would be a healthy scratch on Sunday. For a player with his offensive skill, it is harder for him to make an impact on that back line given the limited minutes and the more defensive role. Ultimately he has to play in the top-nine in order to reach his potential on a game by game basis.

If Trotz wanted to spark more compete and more effort from Vrana, the move to the fourth line may have done the trick. But did he play well enough to warrant moving back into the top-nine? That's the ultimate question.