In the first installment of Three for Three, we focused on Marcus Johansson, Jason Chimera and Tom Poti over the first three games of the Washington Capitals 2010-2011 season. Having three games to look for positives and negatives, trends, and hopefully highlight the players' improvement throughout the season. Those first three games, we saw the slow development of MJ90, the continued speed and grit of Chimera and, unfortunately, only two games from Poti.
For Games 4, 5, and 6 we decided to focus on Tomas Fleischmann, Jeff Schultz and Karl Alzner.More, after the jump.
Fleischmann - Is he capable of handling the second line center responsibilities?
Here are Flash's face-off winning percentages for games 4-6: 23% (3/13), 8% (1/12), and 40% (4/10). Yikes. While he's moving the puck well and getting chances (including a nice, dirty, game-tying goal against Nashville), Fleischmann hasn't looked the part of the 30+ goal scorer many imagine him to be. In these past 3 games, his second line has managed to get on the scoresheet in only the Nashville game. But Flash has still be valuable, logging a decent amount of time on both the PP and PK.
Schultz - Can Sarge step up and assume the role of 'shutdown D'?
All summer, Caps fans emphatically petitioned for the Caps to add a true "defensive defenseman"; one who was physical, intimidating, and smart in his own end. With his play, Jeff Schultz is just as emphatically arguing that he is that defenseman. Although after game 4, the main question became "how will Schultz do without Mike Green at his side?" Well, Sarge had only been on the ice for one goal against on the season, a marker that came in game 6 against Boston. The penalty kill, of which he is a key member, had yet to allow a power play goal (until game 7, but we're talking about 4-6 here). Schultz, however, has been credited with only one hit in these last 3 games after 3 in his first 3 games, and no hits in games 5 and 6 without Mike Green in the line-up. Schultz has never been as physical a defender as his size would suggest, but sometimes hitting has to be part of a defenseman's game.
Alzner - In his first season starting out as a Cap, how would Karl's game progress?
The coaching staff's trust in Alzner has grown as the season has progressed. With Tom Poti and Mike Green missing games due to injury, Karl's ice time has risen from an average of 15:06 in games 1-3 to 17:57 in games 4-6. But Karl is also the only Cap to have played in every game this season and not yet registered a point. At some point, Alzner is going to have to start getting more pucks to the net. If he can continue to earn more minutes with Mike Green on the shelf, Karl's might develop a bit quicker than we imagined.
For games 7-9, we'll be taking a look at newcomer Matt Hendricks, John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom.