Forward scoring at a fast clip this year
Capitals winger Troy Brouwer is being overshadowed by a host of teammates during his team's eight-game winning streak.
That's a decidedly good thing for a team still trying to secure an Eastern Conference playoff spot and a Southeast Division title. Star winger Alex Ovechkin has 19 goals and nine assists in his last 18 games. Center Nicklas Backstrom has three goals and 20 assists during that stretch. Defenseman Mike Green has eight goals and four assists in 14 games since returning from a groin injury.
But Brouwer has awakened over the last three games with four goals in wins over Carolina, Tampa Bay and Toronto. Two of those came on the power play, and another was an empty-netter that sealed the win over the Hurricanes last Thursday.
|Capitals at Senators|
|When » Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.|
|Where » Scotiabank Place,|
|TV » CSN|
"On the power play [Brouwer has] a lot of goals because he's got a good midrange shot there and he's a big guy. He plays that position well," Washington coach Adam Oates said this week. "That's a position I like on a power play, and I think when you get confidence, it trickles into other parts of your game."
Brouwer now has 17 goals in 42 games. He is one away from the total he had in 82 last season. At 92 shots on goal, he is only 41 shy of his career-best total set last season. He now has 30 points and is only 10 off his career best in that category set with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009-10.
"I think I'm just getting a lot more opportunities to shoot," Brouwer said. "[Caps center Mike Ribeiro] tells me never to pass it back to him if I've got an opportunity. When you got a guy that you know doesn't have to have the puck back to score and wants to score but doesn't need to score to be successful, then it makes my job easier. And when I get a look I shoot."
Brouwer probably won't reach any of his career high marks, including 22 goals, given there's just five games left in the regular season, but he's certainly set up well heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Of course, that only matters if the Caps actually reach the postseason. That looks good for now with a 24-17-2 record and 50 points. Washington leads second-place Winnipeg (22-19-2) by four points with five games remaining. But the Jets still have a chance thanks in part to a head-to-head meeting at Verizon Center on Tuesday.
The Caps begin the home stretch with road games in Canada against likely playoff teams. On Thursday they are in Ottawa to play the Senators -- a team they have seen just once this season and are in line to face in the first round. And on Saturday they play at Montreal, the current No. 2 seed, for the second time in 11 days. Washington won there 3-2 on April 9.
"We've got everything going: power play, five-on-five and penalty kill," Backstrom said. "It gives you confidence. I feel like we're playing the right way, and that's the most important."