Washington Capitals forward Troy Brouwer had a career-high points tally of 43 during the regular season and improved his plus/minus rating to plus-11 after four straight seasons with a minus rating. He’s also spent half as many minutes in the penalty box this season over last. Those are stats that any NHL player would be proud of.
However, in his nine postseason games this term, Brouwer has only two assists to his name – which isn’t what anybody expected when the regular season came to a close last month. His numbers will climb though as he’s overdue for a big game against the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Semifinal Series currently tied at 1-1, and that big game may arrive Monday night in front of a red-rocking home fan base at the Verizon Center.
Brouwer on the Third Line
With young Russian star Evgeny Kuznetsov impressing the hockey world on the Capitals’ second line of late, right wing Brouwer has found himself on the third line with center Jay Beagle and left wing Andre Burakovsky.
Both Beagle and Burakovsky are underperforming and that might explain why Brouwer’s shot count is lacking in the postseason at only 14. That number is way low especially when one considers that defensemen Mike Green, Matt Niskanen and John Carlson have 22, 14 and 24 shots respectively. Granted, those D-men spend more time on the ice than Brouwer, but the British Columbia native must be looking to improve.
Brouwer’s mediocre postseason is certainly not from a lack of trying. He’s had some bad puck luck and – of course – when Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist is on his game, goals are hard to come by as illustrated when Brouwer had a golden scoring chance from the slot during a power play Saturday only to be denied by Lundqvist. It takes magic to get a shot past King Lundqvist these days (see Alex Ovechkin’s incredible goal in Game 2 Saturday for details).
‘A Good Pro’
Capitals Coach Barry Trotz is not too concerned about Brouwer’s form of late and nor should anyone else. Brouwer is a Stanley Cup winning big game guy and his time is coming.
“Troy will break out, he’s a good pro,” said Trotz of Brouwer. “He’s going to score an important goal in this series. I feel very confident about that.”
One only need look back to the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 to know what Brouwer is capable of. With the game against the Chicago Blackhawks tied at 2-2, he unleashed a wrist shot from the slot with under 13 seconds left to give the Capitals a 3-2 win.
VIDEO: Troy Brouwer’s winning goal in the 2015 Bridgestone Winter Classic
Brouwer has scored clutch goals in other games this season. He’s a team player, he’s a great mentor for the younger Capitals and he’s due for a big game in the postseason. It’s just a matter of time.
The Washington Capitals face the New York Rangers in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup second round series at the Verizon Center Monday at 7.30 p.m.