Preview: Capitals Host Rangers on Wednesday Night Hockey

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michael banner 2It seems like de ja vu. For the third Wednesday in a row we are back in Chinatown. This time it’ll be the New York Rangers taking on the Washington Capitals as two Metropolitan Division rivals meet for the first time in this young season. This game will be the first of four meetings between the defending champs and the Broadway Bluehsirts this season. The Caps look to end a two-game losing streak against a young and rebuilding Rangers hockey club. Puck drop from Chinatown is at 7 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network.  Continue reading “Preview: Capitals Host Rangers on Wednesday Night Hockey”

Another Turning Point for Capitals: A Fork Stuck in the Road

An Opinion Piece by Lily Rosenberg

This off season the Capitals have re-signed Dmitry Orlov, TJ Oshie, Brett Connolly, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. However, we have also lost many talented players in Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner, Justin Williams, Kevin Shattenkirk, and most recently Marcus Johansson. They all deserve to be appreciated.

Nate Schmidt 
Schmidt was a ball of sunshine. He was just always smiling and he just had this charm. He was also just a very quick defenseman. He was such a good player and clearly the Vegas Golden Knights saw that too. He was snatched up by VGK last Wednesday and will work under General Manager George McPhee, as he did when he first played with the Caps.  He will be missed and I hope he gets one of the top spots in Vegas.

Karl Alzner
Alzner was a good defenseman. He has helped the Caps so much through the years he played with them. I have met him before and he was just a genuinely nice guy. Although he wasn’t too nice about one of the reasons he left saying:  the Caps “always get stumped in the second round.” I won’t hold a grudge. He signed a five-year 23 million dollar deal with the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Justin Williams
We only had two years with him but it was a good two years. He was our Mr. Game 7 but the one game seven we had, he didn’t really help us. We loved his hair and his personality. He said on twitter the Caps “didn’t reach our goal but I will cherish the time I spent there.” On Saturday he signed a two-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes for nine million dollars. We will miss him and his hair!

Kevin Shattenkirk
What can I say about Shattenkirk that hasn’t already been said?  We mourn only the promise we had when he first joined the team. Shattenkirk under-performed our expectations with his -7 points in the playoffs. He signed a four-year deal with the NY Rangers on Saturday for $26.6 million. I hope he helps the Rangers as much as he helped us. 😉

Marcus Johansson
This one really really hurt. Not only did I lose a good shirt but we lost a good player. Johansson was a clutch player and possibly one of the most improved players this past season. He was also just a kind person. He would always sign autographs and take pictures with fans. He had so much potential. Last night he was traded to the New Jersey Devils for a second and third pick by the Capitals in next year’s draft. While I will be excited to see him again, I will be sad to see him in the other teams jersey.

While I am confused as to Brian McClellan;s reasoning, I understand that things happen for a reason and I wish all of these players good luck for the future. I still hope we get a Cup before they do though. 

Caps and Their Defense Gap

Now that we know Nate Schmidt won’t be on the Caps roster next season, we are left wondering what the defense might look like. Additionally, we can assume with a high degree of confidence, that Karl Alzner won’t be back either.We have read that he is exploring his options as well.

Who is left then?

Dmitry Orlovplayoffs126 still needs to sign a new agreement with the Capitals. Coach Trotz usually speaks positively about Dima and seems to have great hopes in his improving abilities. Orlov now has two full seasons in the NHL from which we can gather information. From a scoring perspective, he has increased his assists by six, although he had two fewer goals. In the past season, he ranks fifth in the league and second on the Caps roster with a plus 30, and 10th on the Caps with 33 points. He is also credited as the Caps player who most contributed to scoring opportunities, (defensive point shares/DPS). We see a lot of potential in the 26 year old (his birthday is Friday).

Brooks Orpik: watermarked192017-03-06-1112There has certainly been a lot of discussion on social media over the pros and cons of Orpik, who turns 37 in September. Oprik loves a physical defensive play which can often send him to the box. Last season he spent 48 minutes in the box. He averaged 17.47 minutes on the ice per game—among the lowest time for defensemen on the team. He blocked 132 shots, second only to Karl Alzner. With 181 hits, he was more physical than any D-men—only Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin had more hits. He ended the year with a plus 32, highest on the team. He too ranks high on contributing to the scoring advantage, although many fans see him providing more opportunities to opponents.  The Caps said there would be no buyouts, which likely means Brooks is here to stay. It just isn’t clear to us that he will continue as s a top defenseman, given his history of injury and his age. Read more on Orpik here.

Matt Niskanen: img_8640Another player fans love to hate. He joined the Caps in the 2014/15 season, like Oprik he came from Pittsburgh. Like a fine wine, his scoring just gets better every year. Should Orlvo return, it is likely that he will be paired with him once again. He surpassed Karl Alzner and John Carlson in defensive point shares, and as a whole for the season, had more time on ice then Carlson. He is under contract through the 2020 season and we don’t see him going anywhere. At 31, he still has a good career ahead of him.

John Carlson: John has been playing for the Caps since he was 20–he turns 28 in January. He missed a fair amount of the 2015/16 season with an injury and was out for some of the past season as well. Since his 2015 injury, he has not seemed to play as aggressively as he once did. Coach Trotz has tried some different pairing with him, returning to the best mix of John and Alzner. That, of course is off the table now. When he shoots, it is a power puck that flies. This past season he recorded 28 assists, sixth on the team and eighth in overall points (37). His plus/minus dropped to seven and his power play assists have stayed pretty static at 13. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He will really need to step it up this year if he wants to ensure a spot on the roster come 2018.

That brings us to some of the question marks we have about next season. Who will possibly fill in the holes left by Alzner and Schmidt? What if Orlov isn’t signed?

Taylor Chorney: Taylor didn’t see that much ice time last season, playing in only 18 regular season games and seven playoff games. He previously filled in when Carlson and Orpik were out with their injuries. Some have suggested that the coach team him with either Madison Bowey or Christian Djoos, should they become part of the NHL roster. He has one more year left on his contract, and hopefully, if given more ice time he will be able to fill the Schmidt gap. He has one more year on his contract.

Madison Bowey: Bowey has been with the Hershey Bears for two seasons. He has always been impressive during development camp and this could be his standout summer. He was out much of last season with a broken ankle but all indications are he is ready to go. A/GM Mahoney recently said that Bowey is one of two players ready for the NHL (Jakub Vrana was the other).GMBM is looking for some young blood to add to the line up and the 22 year old could fit the bill. He notched four points in the AHL playoffs, including scoring the game winning overtime goal in game five of the Atlantic Division finals. We are optimistic that he would be a compliment to the Caps blue line.

Christian Djoos: The Caps signed him to a two-year $1.3 million contract today. The first year will be a two-way followed by a one-way contract in the 2018 season. It’s a $650,000 cap hit for those of you calculating. The Caps like their Swedes!! That means he should be seeing some NHL time this season. If this isn’t his year to join the Caps, it could be a year of transitioning him into a slot for 2018 and beyond. He has demonstrated his skill at the AHL level and will have the chance to prove himself during camp. They will likely be looking at his speed and ability to protect the puck.

Aaron Ness: We’ve seen glimmers of Ness in the NHL–10 with the Caps. He has been with the Bears since the 2015 season with 44 points – 33 of those assists. He currently has one year left on his contract with a $612,500 cap hit. We are not big fans of Aaron and look forward to see how he does at camp. Don’t think he will be what the Caps need to fill the Alzner/Schmidt gap.

Kevin Shattenkirk: wm-11To keep Shatt would be costly for the Caps. When he came he had one year left on a 4 year / $17,000,000 contract with the St Louis Blues and a cap hit of $4,250,000. He only played 19 games and we ran hot and cold with his performance. It is unlikely the Caps will sign him. he ended with 14 points and even to game winning goals. But we saw nothing notable in the playoffs. Rumor has it the NY Rangers might be interested or he could ultimately end up in Vegas as part of a trade.

It is important that the Caps have a strong blue line presence that can give Braden Holtby added protection. Fan expectation is to have more aggressive scoring defensemen. As the management team gets about filling the gaps this summer, our hope is they will bring forward some new blood with the same desire to win that Schmidt and Alzner had. The Caps shouldn’t have far to look, although a trade isn’t out of the question either.

Shattenkirk To the Caps: Good Trade?

At around 10:00 last night Caps’ fans Facebook groups were buzzing with the news of Kevin Shattenkirk being traded to the Capitals from the St. Louis Blues. Shattenkirk is a depth defenseman which was one of our greatest needs as we get closer to the playoff games. This isn’t the first important Blues player we’ve picked up, previously our very own Tj Oshie is a former Blues player. We unfortunately lost a first round draft pick in 2017, a conditional second round in 2018, Zach Sanford, and Brad Malone for Shattenkirk and gained former Hershey goalie Pheonix Copley, who will once again play with the Bears. This is a high price for Shattenkirk and Copley, and my  big question is: is it worth it?

Shattenkirk has 11 goals and 31 assists this season with the Blues and a career of 66 goals and 218 assists. That would seem bad if he wasn’t a defenseman; however, he has nearly doubled the amount of goals of our highest scoring defenseman, John Carlson, has racked up. While +/- is a very outdated stat he has a -11 stat however his team has altogether a -3.33 +/- average vs our average of +16.7. While his +/- isn’t glowing his Corsi is above many Caps defenseman including, Chorney (32), Alzner (103), Schmidt (122), Orpik (127), and Orlov (157). Corsi represents the amount of shots on goal, saved shots, and missed shots all added together Shattenkirk has a corsi of 162.

How’s Sanford though? Sanford has scored two goals and gotten one assist in 26 NHL games with the Caps. he has light up the net 11 times and gotten 5 assists in 25 games down at Hershey. He is a very good prospect and could have an amazing future; however, he is still a rookie. I don’t know how much he could have done for us because right now the only way you can tell is the probabilities.
I  think this is a good trade. We have many good offense man and some good defense but we needed the depth that he will add. We’ll see tonight against the Rangers. But anyway what do you think guys think?

Shattenkirk to Caps Strengthens Cup Run; First Look Against NYR Tonight

Opinion Piece by Chris Cleveland

Kevin Shattenkirk to the Caps means it really is Stanley Cup or bust this year. As the trade deadline winds down, the Washington Capitals shocked us all and made what could be the trade that puts them over the top and finally brings the Cup home to DC. The Caps sent their 2017 first round pick, 2018 second round pick, and Zack Sanford to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Kevin Shattenkirk.

I know Shattenkirk very well. Actually I am a huge Blackhawks fan as well and they had to deal with Shattenkirk constantly. The guy is a darn good defenseman and has one of the best slap shots I have ever seen. He drove me crazy with the number of goals he has scored on the Hawks and I am super happy he is now with the Caps. Another really appealing thing about him is his ability to create plays and set up his teammates. The part I really like about him though is his age. He is only 27 and can really provide a major boost to the Caps blue line–something that has been lacking in the playoffs . The Mike Weber experiment last year which was a complete failure. This; however, is going to be a totally different story.  As one of the best D in the league, Shattenkirk is going to be one of the key pieces of the Caps cup run this year.

sanford-called-upEven though we did give up a lot for him, like Zach Sanford,  it is going to be worth it in the end if we bring home the Stanley Cup this year. My final reason for liking Shattenkirk is he is a magician on the power play. He has scored so many power play goals against the Hawks from so many different angles and he loves the one timer from the point too. I also don’t think the Caps are done trading yet. I could really see us trading off Stan Galiev and Nate Schdmit together for a depth forward who has won a Cup before. You know, someone like Patrick Sharp? Here is my best guess at what the Caps D pairs will be from as we head to the final run for the Cup:

Carlson Alzner

Niskanen Shattenkirk

Orpik Orlv

Thoughts?? Are you more hopeful now about the Caps getting all the way to the finals this year? Think we need more change?

 

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