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:
- Zubrus has taken 100 more faceoffs than anyone on the team (and won exactly half of the 358 draws - ninth most in the NHL - he's taken);
- He has skated the fourth most shifts on the team, and is tied for the lead in goals among NHL centers (though NHL.com doesn't list his position as such);
- No other Capital center has more than one goal (red flag!); and
- He has been integral in Ovechkin's on- and off-ice development.
UPDATE (11/16, 2:00 p.m.): Zubrus is probable for tomorrow night's game.