While it wasn't the greatest of three game sets for the Caps, one thing remained constant: the Caps still haven't gone under .500 in any Three for Three stretch so far this season. Winning two out of every three games over the course of a season would give you 54 wins (and in the playoffs, would mean you'd win every series in six games). Two out of three ain't bad!
Over games 16, 17, and 18 we took a look at numbers 21, 52 and 39: Brooks Laich, Mike Green and David Steckel.
Laich - With Semin seeing more time on the top line, can Brooks still contribute with less skilled linemates?
Yes, assuming one of those linemates isn't Tomas Fleischmann...
It was a rather flat three games for Laich, with only 1 assist during the stretch in which he was -1. But stats can be misleading. Laich could be seen crashing the net, working over defensemen deep in the corners and creating chances all while being honest in his own end. Unfortunately for Laich, he's stuck playing with perhaps the most consistently invisible 20 goal scorer on the team as his pivot. Letting Brooks skate as the center for that line would completely change the dynamic of the line; for now, we're left to wonder 'what if?'.
Green - Can we finally start talking about how good an all-around defenseman Greenie has become?
I'd sure say so.
Nine blocked shots, two points and an average of over 25 minutes of ice time per game (with over three minutes more PK time than time on the PP). Perhaps more importantly, Green is making smarter plays with the puck and as a result has been better at limiting his turnovers (only 3 in three games compared to 6 in his previous three). If you think Mike Green deserved the Norris trophy last season, it would be hard to argue he wasn't even better, all-around, than last year. Unless, of course, you're a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association...
Steckel - How would Steckel respond to being scratched versus the Rangers?
Stecks is back.
In his last three contests, all Dave Steckel has done is tie for the team lead in hits in 2 of 3 games (8 hits total), record a goal and an assist and manage to be +3 while playing his usual role of defensive forward. Oh, and his 71% face off percentage on 69 draws isn't too shabby either. If players like Steckel are consistently putting forth this level of effort, the Caps will be in fine shape when spring arrives.
For games 10-12, we'll be taking a look at Team Pressbox: Tyler Sloan, DJ King and Semyon Varlamov.