What in the h-e-double hockey sticks is wrong with the Washington Capitals?
The Southeast division has been the laughing stock of the NHL for years. Cripes, it wasn't that long ago that winning the division was almost the only way to make the playoffs.
Cue laugh track now.
But then along came Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps, and that Southeast rep was no longer token - they were the good enough to not only compete for the President's trophy but also win it. So what the heck happened?
I'd be rich if I knew. And my fantasy teams would be better, too.
Sure, they've been hit with injuries. But so have the Penguins. They signed Tomas Vokoun but don't seem to be totally happy with him...despite his delivery of almost identical numbers to his days in Florida. Their players are whining like babies and their agents are tweeting in support of that immaturity.
This team has less chemistry than J.Lo and Marc Anthony after the twins arrived. And they just don't seem to have the heart to overcome a hangnail or a couple of bad haircuts.
Blow it up. And fast.
The real knife in the chest of this once proud franchise came off the tongue of associate goalie coach, Olaf Kolzig, who threw Ovechkin under the bus earlier this month. He told the Washington Post that Ovie really shouldn't get so wrapped up in his “rock-star status.”
“I don't disagree,” added general manager George McPhee.
The empire has crumbled. It's a sad, sad time for hockey. Maybe it's even time to strip Ovie of the captaincy. After all, he's not the team's best player any more. And I'm not sure I'd want my team to take on the personality of this particular captain. At least not right now.
Now let's take a look at who caught my eye this week.
Alex Burmistrov, RW/C, Winnipeg (5 percent owned) - I love watching this guy stickhandle. He can pivot on a dime, make sharp lateral cuts without losing a speck of speed, and feather a sweet saucer through a defender's legs to feed a linemate a fabulous scoring opportunity. And this year, he has ramped up his finishing skills with more goals (12) than assists (11). He has three goals and two assists in his last seven games - not spectacular by any means but sharp enough to help you from his spot on the Jets' second line.
Derek Dorsett, RW, Columbus (7 percent owned) - Surprise, surprise - Derek Dorsett is no longer just a goon. He's having a career year with 10 goals already (his previous best was a mere four) and he'll soon establish a new career-best in PIM. But it's still the latter that makes him valuable in most Yahoo! formats. His 59 PIM in 10 games in February were an outstanding haul and he's on pace for finish with a league-leading 250 PIM. Just as a reference, those 59 PIM would have vaulted me up three spots in the sin bin category in the Friends and Family league. He's now mine. And he could be yours, too.
Nick Foligno, LW, Ottawa (13 percent owned) - Nicky Nicky Nine Doors is putting up the points again - four in the last three games to be exact. And he's added four PIMs in that span, too. Still, he's hot-and-cold - he'd had just a single point in the seven games before this streak. But left wing is a bit of a black hole right now and he might be the best you can score - other than last week's darling, Jiri Tusty - if you need help.
Robin Lehner, G, Ottawa (1 percent owned) - Lehner is a stud with a serious edge. He walloped Kevin Poulin with a nasty forearm shiver earlier this season and then got into a wrestling match with an AHL ref between Christmas and New Year's. Heck - he might even have the same crazy gene as Ron Hextall. But he also has fantastic talent and it'll be showcased with the Sens after Craig Anderson cut himself while preparing an off-day meal. Pancakes anyone? His AHL stats this season aren't much but he was the AHL playoff MVP last season as a teenager. This is likely a short audition but it could prove to be extremely fruitful. Desperate owners should give him a try over the next 10 days.
Anders Lindback, G, Nashville (2 percent owned) - It's just a hunch but this talented behemoth could be trade bait by Monday. And that could bring you some very surprising fantasy value before season's end. He's cut in the mold of teammate Pekka Rinne - a big, quick, hybrid-style twinetender - and he has number one upside. The Preds might just make a move for Rick Nash (no kidding) and if they do, Lindback would be in the package. A starter's role awaits if that's the case.
Teddy Purcell, RW, Tampa Bay (23 percent owned) - Purcell is a big man with buttery soft hands and a lazy skating stride. But don't let that deceive you - there are a lot of big guys who don't look like they're putting in a lot effort but still move pretty darn fast. He'd turned up the volume on his game this month but he took it up another octave Tuesday night skating with new linemate. Steven Stamkos. And after Thursday's outburst, he has 14 points (three goals, 11 helpers) in his last nine games. He's a disher; Stammer's the finisher. Sounds like a marriage made in west Florida.
Vladimir Sobotka, C, St. Louis (1 percent owned) - Sobotka is a shift disturber with skill who got promoted to the top line with T.J. Oshie and David Backes on Wednesday night. But don't let that failed experiment fool you. He slid down to the join the red-hot pairing of David Perron and Patrik Berglund on Thursday, and that immediately produced dividends with a second-period goal against the Preds. Still, you need to watch and wait on him - he has two goals in his last four games but he'd been mired in a 28-game goal slump before that. He's only worthy if he can show a little more jam with his new linemates. Just think of the potential nickname for that line - PB with Jam. Nice.
Jared Spurgeon, D, Minnesota (3 percent owned) - This tiny talent has elite hockey IQ and isn't afraid to jump into the rush. I'm not sure if that's courageous or crazy when you're a 5-foot-9 paperweight. But he has delivered three assists, including two on the power play, in his last four games. And there just aren't that many multi-category contributors on the wire.
Matt Taormina, D, New Jersey (1 percent owned) - Taormina fits the profile of a lot of successful defenders in today's NHL - small and quick with slick wheels and a lot of confidence. But he's more than just a puck mover - he takes it one step further and loves to join the rush. And that's a huge difference in terms of offensive upside. He's no Erik Karlsson and his defensive shortcomings mean he'll never be anything more than a 4/5 kind of guy … but he's a 4/5 who can quarterback the power play. He's riding a three-game scoring streak and those don't grow on trees for free-agent defenders.
Slava Voynov, D, Los Angeles (0 percent owned) - Jack Johnson is gone. Voynov's 51 points in 76 AHL games last season were no fluke. Get him now.
Back to the Caps.
The team really does need to be gutted. Maybe Ovie does need a major wake-up call. But does George McPhee have the coconuts to get out the knife?
I think his job depends on it.
Owner Ted Leonsis doesn't suffer fools. Or embarrassments like missing the playoffs, particularly when the team entered the season with Lord Stanley as its goal.
Especially when these petulant prima donnas have gone from best in the East to pity targets in half a season.
And here I thought the hangover only came when you won the Cup.
Until next week. Enjoy the trade deadline. I know I will.