After he scored his first goal as a Capital against Tampa Bay in the second game regular season, Troy Brouwer thought that this year wouldn’t be like those in the past. But five games in, the gritty winger has only that point and is a plus 1.
“I feel like I’m playing solid. I’m not wowing anyone right now,” Brouwer said. “I’ve only got one goal, one point in the first five games, and on a personal note that’s a little unacceptable for me, especially with the players who I’m playing with.”
Slow starts aren’t entirely new to Brouwer, who signed a two-year deal worth $4.7 million this offseason after the Capitals traded their 2011 first-round pick for his negotiating rights.
In the first 10 games of last season, Brouwer recorded six points but didn’t score a goal until his 13th game of the year. In 2009-10, the first 10 games saw him record three points, and it took until the eighth contest for him to get a goal. The first 10 games of his rookie year? Brouwer had four points and scored a goal in his sixth appearance.
“I don’t want to say I’m a notorious slow starter — I was hoping to change that when I got that goal this year,” Brouwer said. “I need to be better, whether it’s the start of the season or not. I know I’m finishing my checks but there’s more to my game than just that. I expect to be able to score goals for myself and for my team, and create goals as well.”
Playing with Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom on the top line, Brouwer puts additional pressure on himself to produce in order to help lessen the pressure that his linemates receive, or at least counter the impact of opponents shutting them down.
Through five games, Ovechkin has one goal, three points and is a minus 2 while Backstrom leads the Capitals’ with six points (one goal) but he’s also a minus 2.
“With Ovi only having one goal, I take a lot of onus on myself because…with how much he gets covered right now he needs linemates to help him out and that will make him more successful as well,” Brouwer said.
If there’s ever a setting for Brouwer to flourish it may be Thursday night in Philadelphia. The Capitals sought Brouwer’s physical, grinding style of play to face foes like the Flyers, who play a playoff-style of game all season long. Brouwer also has plenty of experience against the Flyers from the 2010 Stanley Cup final series that the Blackhawks played and won against them.
“The team’s changed a little bit, but there’s a lot of guys still around that I played against in my series against them,” Brouwer said. “I know the players very well, I know how they play and it’s a good type of hockey for me. I like that type of bumping and grinding hockey. So it gets you into the game for a player like me, battle in the corners, do what makes me successful.”