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The Man In The Middle

After colliding with the mountainous Zdeno Chara with around 11 minutes to go in last night's loss to Boston, Dainius Zubrus left the game and did not return. The Caps certainly could have used the Lithuanian pivot, especially in the four-on-four overtime period, but, more importantly, a healthy Zubrus is absolutely critical for the Caps in order to keep building on their early-season momentum.

In fact, the argument could be made that, to date, Zubrus has been the Caps' Most Valuable Player.

Olie Kolzig? While he'd probably get my vote, Brent Johnson has proven he's a capable back-up and in fact has a better Goals Against Average and a better Save Percentage than does Kolzig.

Alexander Ovechkin? Sure, he's got more points, game-winning goals, etc., than Zubie, but if there's one place the Caps do have some depth, it's down the left-side, with Alex Semin, Matt Pettinger, Ben Clymer and Donald Brashear behind AO on the depth chart (so much depth, in fact, that Pettinger and Tomas Fleischmann have been playing the right side rather than their natural portside positions).

Of course I'm not saying that the Caps would be where they are in the standings without Kolzig and Ovechkin. But they certainly wouldn't be there without Zubrus either. Consider:
If Zubrus is out for an extended period of time, one wonders if the Caps would be tempted to do something bold to fill the void his absence would leave.

UPDATE (11/16, 2:00 p.m.): Zubrus is probable for tomorrow night's game.