After a recent embarrassing loss to Atlanta, Caps' bench boss Bruce Boudreau heaped praise upon a single player, dimunitive pivot Keith Aucoin.
"Here's a 5-foot-7 guy, there's a reason he's leading the American league in scoring." Boudreau said. "He's160 pounds soaking wet and he's finishing checks and winning battles against big guys. There's no reason that our other guys can't do that."
For that effort, Aucoin was rewarded with a healthy scratch the next game when Sergei Fedorov returned to the lineup and a subsequent demotion before seeing another NHL game, which was an interesting message to send to a team whose energy level has left a lot to be desired for a while now.
But Aucoin hasn't just been one of the Caps' hardest workers when he has played, he's also been fairly effective in limited ice time. No, he hasn't produced much on the score sheet (a single assist), but he has the best Corsi Rating in the NHL of anyone who has played a minimum of five games, and has been on the ice for three Caps goals and nary a one for the opposition. Granted, that sample size is as small as Aucoin himself, but he also led last year's Carolina Hurricanes in Corsi, and had 13 points in 38 games in limited minutes, so the notion that he can play the game a bit isn't exactly far-fetched.
Is Keith Aucoin the answer? Probably not (especially since he makes the Swedish centers on the team look like dominant face off men by comparison). The Caps are still probably better off in the long-run making lemonade with their current third-line lemon. But as Gabby noted there's a reason Aucoin is leading the AHL in scoring. Given the alternative(s) and his performances so far, we should get another chance or two to see what that reason is, and tonight should be such an opportunity. Let's see what he does with it.