Standing out on a star-laden team that features two former MVPs and the reigning one isn't easy, particularly for a third-line forward. But the Washington Capitals' Brooks Laich has done it by blocking 95-mph slap shots, creating havoc in the crease and killing penalties, tasks that complement headliners such as Alex Ovechkin.
"It's his work ethic and determination," said Coach Bruce Boudreau, who has overseen Laich's development from long-shot prospect to reliable NHL veteran. "But I still don't think we've seen the best of Brooks. I think he's going to be a 25-, 30-goal scorer in this league and become a staple for a while."
's importance was never more evident than in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers. A versatile player who can line up at all three forward positions and contribute in every situation, the 25-year-old from Saskatchewan was killing off a penalty when he saw the puck end up on the stick of defenseman John Erskine. Without hesitation, Laich
bolted through center ice, knocked down Erskine's long pass, raced into the Panthers' zone and netted his third game-winner of the season and sixth short-handed goal of the past three seasons, the most of any Capital in that span.