Don’t get me wrong, Alexander Ovechkin is one of my favorite hockey players of all time and easily one of the top players in the World today.  The Washington Capitals suffered a serious loss when he went down to injury recently, and while they won’t be as dangerous as they could be while he’s on the mend, they’re still a good team capable of exciting plays from young players.

When Washington fans go to the Verizon Center to “Rock the Red”, they’re looking to “Great 8” for exciting goals and big hits.  The Caps fans who fill the seats have varying degrees of hockey knowledge – some are life-long fans, others are there because they’ve heard it’s an entertaining event to attend, but I’d be willing to bet that anyone over the age of 4 who goes to a game knows the name Ovechkin – even if they can’t spell it.

With Ovi injured for the time being, fans shouldn’t worry about lackluster games, because with the roster the Capitals have, they should be able to provide plenty of great action, and fans might find additional players they want to watch.

#19 – Nicklas Backstrom, for example, is a powerful young forward who averaged more than 1 point per game last season, his second season in the NHL.  He had 3 times more assists than goals, but that just means that he makes players around him better.  Through this point in the season, he’s averaging over 1 point per game yet again and not showing signs of slowing down.  This guy should easily be on the All Star team.

#28 – Alexander Semin (pronounced SEM [like the “hem” in your pants] – IN) also averages more than 1 point per game, but he scores an even number of goals and assists, and he’s got some speed and shooting skills that tend to make things exciting even if he misses one of his shots on goal.

#52 – Mike Green is the reason the DC area has seen an increase in the number of mohawks the past few years.  Though he no longer sports the hairstyle, Mike Green’s style of play on Defense and unique sense of style quickly made him a fan favorite.  Sometimes he finds himself out of position and it leads to a scoring opportunity for the other team, it usually comes from taking a risk which often leads to one of his exciting plays on offense.  Last year Mike Green was one of the top scoring defensemen in the league, scoring nearly a goal in every-other game he played.

#21 – Brooks Laich is a name you should remember, too, even if you can’t remember how to pronounce it.  Now being utilized in one of the two scoring lines for the Capitals and often starting games for them (NHL teams don’t always start the game with their top line of offense on the ice), he’s averaging a point per game thus far in the season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he became the team’s Captain fairly soon.  A better percentage than a lot of his peers, Laich scores a goal on an average rate of almost one goal per 6 shots he takes.  His career stats would be a lot higher if he had more chances to shoot, and increased ice time this year will show that.

#14 – Tomas Fleischmann – nicknamed “Flash” – got a late start to the season after a blood clot kept him out action all the way up through the first eleven games of the season, but already after 3 games he has 2 goals and an assist.  So long as he can stay healthy, I expect him to surpass his previous season-high of 19 goals.  Don’t be surprised if he lights the lamp in an upcoming game and you find yourself wondering how he put himself into position to make the play.  He’s not an All Star, but he’s certainly an exciting part of the team.

#40 – Semyon Varlamov is looking like the future of goaltending for the Capitals.  He’s yet to lose a regular season game going back to his debut last year, and although he isn’t winless in the post-season, he did enough last year to warrant playing time over highly respected veteran Jose Theodore.

ALL of those guys are under the age of 27.  With Michael Nylander and Mike Knuble both still playing hockey at 37, that means you could have a decade of things to look forward to of those players, but you’d never know it if you go to the Verizon Center (or turn on your television) only looking for #8 Alex Ovechkin.