Since we put Michael Nylander under the microscope yesterday, let's turn out attention to a slightly older, slightly cheaper pivot, namely Sergei Fedorov.
Fedorov, as we know all too well, has missed 27 games this season with an ankle injury, and his next game for the Caps (which will presumably come against his former team on Saturday), will be his 41st regular season game in a Washington uniform. Here's how he's done so far:
Sergei's .70 point-per-game rate as a Cap bests any of his individual post-lockout seasons (and he's just a hair under that for this season alone, at .68), despite the lowest average ice time per game (16:52) of his career and playing at least three games as a blueliner.
Fedorov has been brought along slowly since returning from injury, not once eclipsing the 16:44 of total ice time that represented his lowest pre-injury total on the season while averaging less than 15:30 per night, and having just three points in seven games to show for his efforts.
Of particular interest, Fedorov has gotten only 1:41 of shorthanded ice time since coming back. That's not an average of 1:41, that's a total, and that's a seven-game total that's lower than he had in eight of his first 11 individual games on the season (and 11 of his 18 regular season games as a Cap last season).
Think the penalty kill could use Feds? With him in the lineup prior to his return from injury (when he was actually getting PK time), the team killed 83.5% of the penalties it faced, a number that would be in the top ten in the League. Without 91, the penalty kill has been a woeful 77.1%, a bottom five success rate. And if you're looking for a big reason for that differential, look no further than the face-off circle - the Caps won 57.3% of their draws when shorthanded before Fedorov got hurt and have won just 49% when he's out. It's no wonder - and no mistake - that Sergei Fedorov has the lowest goals against on ice per sixty minutes of four-on-five time of any Caps forward.
The flip-side of the coin - Fedorov on the power play - is nearly as interesting. Tuesday night in Boston, Feds had a season-high 6:37 of power-play time... and the unit was 0-for-6 (and Sergei wasn't on the ice for the Mike Green pseudo-PP goal). In fact, in the five games in which Fedorov has had more than 5:30 of power-play ice time (an average of 6:20 per game), the team's extra man unit has gone 2-for-24 (8.3%), and overall the team's power play is 26.2% effective (which would be second-best in the League) when Fedorov doesn't play and 17.9% successful when he suits up. Once Tom Poti is healthy, scaling back Feds' time on the power-play point would seem to make sense.
The bottom line, of course, is that the Caps aren't paying Sergei Fedorov for what he does in January, at least not what he does on the ice in January, so it's wise not to burn out the 39-year-old during the dog days of winter (I've said before and still believe that the injury will be a blessing in the long run in that he'll have that much less mileage on him come April). But if the Caps are looking for a quick fix for the penalty kill, they'd be wise to give 91 some more minutes there, even - no, especially - if it's at the expense of his power-play time.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Speaking of Fedorov, the Caps Road Crew is organizing the Unofficial Sergei Fedorov Night for Saturday against the Wings, which, other than the fact that it's a day game, is a great idea (h/t Puck Daddy).... Just when I was ready to give Donald Brashear the day off on Saturday, the Wings recall Aaron Downey, which forces me to post this link....What, no love for Flash?.... In the Caps' first season, Bill Mikkelson posted a -82 plus/minus rating, and yet he was apparently allowed to reproduce.... DiLo's two cents on Twitter (on which you can follow us here).... I'm pretty psyched that Canes Country has joined SB Nation.... Finally, Happy 37th Birthday to today's Cap of the Day. We'll always have 1999-2000....