Washington Capitals Player of the Month: January
Which Washington Capitals player had the best January?
The Washington Capitals as a team had a very strong month of January. The Caps lost just three games and had 11 games in which they scored at least four goals. The offense was definitely rolling and several players put up some fantastic numbers.
It was a month of streaks, as guys like Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Andre Burakovsky all had point streaks at some point throughout the month. There were also some unsung heroes such as Jay Beagle and Dmitry Orlov who stepped up.
And, obviously, Braden Holtby in net is a big reason for the success of the Capitals. Washington leads the league in keeping opponents from scoring.
However, second-line center Evgeny Kuznetsov arguably had the best month of the bunch.
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After putting up 77 points a year ago, the Russian entered this season with sky-high expectations. Unfortunately, he had just 19 points when December ended. Then something clicked, and Kuznetsov started to look like the budding superstar from last season.
In the month of January he surpassed his season numbers by recording a total of 20 points. He tied with Ovechkin for the most goals in the month on the team (7), and was second behind Backstrom with 13 assists. He also led all forwards with a plus-13 rating.
Kuznetsov used a big game at the start of the month to break out of his slump. On January 3 he registered a goal and three assists, including on Ovechkin’s game-winner, against Toronto.
He finished the month with back-to-back multi-point games after recording two goals against the Devils and picking up a goal and an assist versus the Islanders.
Hopefully for Washington, Kuznetsov has turned a corner and will now start to produce on a more consistent basis like he did in January. If he does, the rest of the NHL should be very fearful of the Capitals.