At the Quarter Mark: Forwards

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The Capitals offense has been the most exciting in the league for the last several years. One big component of that scoring is the forwards. Whether it’s Ovi, Backy, Kuzy, or MoJo, a goal by one of these players always boosts your team. 

Nicklas Backstrom leads the team in assists (14) and points (20) and has been hot as of late. Alex Ovechkin leads the Caps in goals (12) and is one goal away from achieving the milestone of 200 power play goals. Marcus Johansson has been a pleasant surprise this season with nine goals and 15 points. He is second and third in those categories respectively.

There has been one big concern among those in Caps Nation about the recent injury bug that has taken a bite out of some key players in the Capitals lineup. One of those players who has fell victim to it is T.J. Oshie. During the game on Nov. 19th against the Red Wings, Oshie sustained an upper-body injury and left the game. While he hasn’t made a game appearance since, Oshie can be seen on the ice still practicing with the team.

CENTER
Nicklas Backstrom
Current Stat Line: 21 GP, 6 G, 14 A, +3 rating
Nicky has been on a tear as of late. Backstrom has earned 11 points in his last seven games with five goals and six assists. He leads the Caps with five multi-point games this season, including a two point (one goal, one assist) performance during Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Backstrom also leads the Caps in points (20) and assists (14) which has him ranked 12th in the NHL in those categories. Since entering the league in 2007-08, Backstrom is tied for fifth in the league in multi-point games with 181 which trails Alex Ovechkin (225), Sidney Crosby (219), Evgeni Malkin (189) and Henrik Sedin (183).

Grade: A

Evgeny Kuznetsov
Current Stat Line: 21 GP, 3 G, 6 A, +5 rating
After a breakout sophomore season, Kuzy has been off to a slower start than we’re accustomed to seeing. He didn’t get his first goal until the fourth game and didn’t light the lamp again for another nine games. He only has three goals and six assists for nine points but had his best game of the season on Thanksgiving Eve against the Blues. He scored and assisted on one of Ovechkin’s three goals of the night.

Grade: C-

Lars Eller
Current Stat Line: 20 GP, 2 G, 1 A, -1 rating
Eller was acquired from Montreal this past offseason in exchange for two second round picks in 2017 and 2018. He has given the Caps more depth on the center position, in particular the third line. He has two goals and one assist so far this season.

Grade: C-

Zach Sanford
Current Stat Line: 19 GP, 0 G, 1 A, -1 rating
The 22-year old rookie is still transitioning to life in the pros but it has been a good learning experience for him. He got his first career assist on Oct. 30 at Calgary. Sanford nearly netted his first NHL goal on Black Friday against the Sabres. He put together a great curl-and-drag on the breakaway but couldn’t get the puck past the Sabres goaltender. If he continues to put together great efforts like that one, he will have his first career goal soon enough.

Grade: D+

Paul Carey
Current Stat Line: 1 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 0 rating
Carey has been recalled from Hershey. He has only appeared in one game with the Caps so far this season. With the Bears, he has five goals and nine assists for 14 points.

Grade: G (not graded)

LEFT WING
Alex Ovechkin
Current Stat Line: 21 GP, 12 G, 14 A, 0 rating
“Alexander the Great” leads the Caps in goals (12) and is second on the team in points (18). After scoring his 500th career goal last season, Ovi’s latest milestone chase is 200 power play goals. He needs just one more goal on the man-advantage to become the 18th player in NHL history to reach that milestone. Last week against the Blues, Ovi completed his 16th hat trick, needing only three more to tie Peter Bondra for the franchise lead. He is once again having a good start to the season and the Caps will be looking to their captain to continue to lead.

Grade: A+

Marcus Johansson
Current Stat Line: 21 GP, 12 G, 6 A, +7 rating
MoJo has been a pleasant surprise for the Capitals this season. Johansson is second on the team with nine goals and third in points (15). His best stretch came during the Capitals Western Canada road trip in late October where he scored twice on back-to-back nights in Vancouver and Calgary.

Grade: A

Andre Burakovsky
Current Stat Line: 21 GP, 2 G, 8 A, -2 rating
Burakovsky has two goals and eight assists for 10 points, a slow start like Kuznetsov in his third NHL season. Last season he lit the lamp 17 times. He did get two assists in the game vs. St. Louis last week and his ice time has begun to increase over the last four games so he hopes to get more scoring opportunities.

Grade: C-

Daniel Winnik
Current Stat Line: 14 GP, 3 G, 1 A, +4 rating
Damn Daniel! After scoring two goals in the Caps home opener, he has been relatively quiet on the scoresheet. He tallied a goal on Friday night vs. Buffalo. The fourth line left wing hasn’t seen more than 16 minutes of ice time yet this season.

Grade: C-

RIGHT WING
T.J. Oshie
Current Stat Line: 17 GP, 8 G, 4 A, +10 rating
Oshie has been an integral part of the Capitals top line ever since the team acquired him in the summer of 2015. He has eight goals and four assists through 17 games including a big two goal performance two weeks ago vs. Pittsburgh. 48-hours later in a game against the Red Wings, he injured his upper body and hasn’t played in a game since. While he’s only missed four games up to this point, he has been practicing with the team. Trotz said he doesn’t anticipate him playing this week.

Grade: A

Jay Beagle
Current Stat Line: 21 GP, 4 G, 4 A, +3 rating
Beagle has been excellent on the face-off circle with a 60.2% success rate. He has four goals thus far, already halfway towards reaching last season’s total. He also has four assists. If he keeps playing at a consistent level, including during the time Oshie is rehabbing his injury, expect him to pass his 10 goal, 10 assist mark from 2014-15 which is currently his career-high.

Grade: B

Brett Connolly 
Current Stat Line: 13 GP, 2 G, 1 A, +1 rating
Connolly had a goal Friday vs. Buffalo. He has two goals and one assist so far in his first season in DC after the Caps acquired him from the Bruins.

Grade: D+

Justin Williams
Current Stat Line: 21 GP, 2 G, 2 A, -3 rating
Justin Williams is off to a slow start in his second season with the team with just two goals and two assists but is the Caps leader in face-offs with a 63.4% success rate.

Grade: C-

Tom Wilson
Current Stat Line: 21 GP, 1 G, 0 A, +1 rating
Tom Wilson hasn’t been the Tom Wilson that we are accustomed to seeing. After getting 253 hits last season, he has just 42 hits through the quarter mark of this season. It’s a good thing he’s been staying out of the penalty box as much as he can but he needs to score more goals. His lone goal came during Washington’s win at Vancouver in late-October.

Grade: D+

By Michael Marzzacco

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