February 3, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) and Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) celebrate after a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals News and Links: Around The Beltway, Enigma Edition

First there was the 2-8-1 start, where the Caps took too many penalties, scored too few goals, got hardly any production from their captain, and suffered through a series of shaky goaltending performances.

Then out of the blue came Saturday’s 5-0 drubbing of the Florida Panthers. Lo and behold, there was discipline! There was Alex Ovechkin scoring at even strength! There was Braden Holtby, slamming the door on any and all shooters AND sparking the offense with his slick passing (yes, that really happened)!

It’s no wonder that the Washington Post has officially declared the Caps a mystery. We’re all hoping that the team has turned a corner of some sort, but if you think you can predict what’s going to happen next, you’re probably fooling yourself.

There’s some work left to do for Washington to climb out of the very deep hole it dig itself the first few weeks of the season, starting with a three-game road trip this week. Winning, say, two of those games would go a long way toward reinforcing the idea that the team has finally found a groove. Losing them all and we could easily see the Caps spiraling back down into the abyss.

At least that’s going to keep things interesting. Let’s go “Around the Beltway” while we continue to ponder the Caps’ place in the NHL universe:

  •  The Capitals are first in something: waiver order. Sunday was the first day the order was valid, and Washington took the top spot by virtue of the fact that they remain last in the league in points. Now if the Buffalo Sabres would just waive Thomas Vanek, life would be wonderful. (The Washington Times)
  • Marcus Johansson did not practice today, supposedly due to an upper-body injury. And yet he was a healthy scratch on Saturday. Hmm… Still no ETA for Brooks Laich. (The Washington Times)
  • Holtby isn’t resting on his laurels. He know he still has things to work on even though he’s fresh off a shutout. Getting the power play going isn’t one of them, as we saw. (On Frozen Blog)
  • In case anyone wants to get too excited about Saturday’s win, the Caps still went 1-2 last week. The five-goal outburst remains an outlier until they prove they can do it again, though the power play is a bright spot at the moment. (The Peerless Prognosticator)
  • In the world of ex-Caps, Alex Semin and Mike Knuble faced each other One of them drew a penalty on the other thanks to some, um, embellishment, and there’s video evidence. Bet you can’t guess who did what… (Russian Machine Never Breaks)
  • In case you need some options next time you go “Rock the Red” in person, Monumental Network put together a dining guide to let you know everything there is to eat in and around Verizon Center. Or is it “the” Verizon Center? I never know. Alas, all you really need to know comes to us courtesy of rabid Caps fan @JNeis26, who was in the house for the Florida game and discovered to his delight that there is now Chick-fil-A at home games. Eat mor chikin! (Monumental Network)

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Tags: Braden Holtby Brooks Laich Marcus Johansson

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