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Previewing the East: Washington

The biggest spending at the free-agency party, the Capitals shored up defensive need

Tuesday, 08.19.2014 / 12:00 AM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Previewing the East: Washington
DETROIT – Ready for some hockey?

Sure you are.

The Red Wings don’t open training camp until Sept. 19 in Traverse City, but over the next eight weeks DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose will preview the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, including the Red Wings’ Atlantic Division rivals in Boston, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Florida and Buffalo. This week it's the Washington Capitals:

WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Coach: Barry Trotz

2013-14 INTANGIBLES
Last Year: 38-30-14, 90 points (ninth in Eastern Conference)
Detroit vs. Capitals: 1-0-2
5-on-5 Goals: 139 (12th in Eastern Conference)
Power Play Efficiency: 68-for-291, 23.4 percent (second in Eastern Conference)

POINT RANGE
2013-14 Stats Vs. Red Wings
Player POS AGE rank GM G A PT. GM G A PT.
Alex Ovechkin RW 28 8 78 51 28 79 3 2 2 4
Nicklas Backstrom C 26 11 82 18 61 79 3 0 4 4
Joel Ward RW 33 93 82 24 25 49 3 3 1 4
Marcus Johansson C 23 121 80 8 36 44 3 0 2 2
Troy Brouwer RW 29 123 82 25 18 43 3 1 0 1
 
IN THE CREASE
2013-14 Stats
Goalie AGE Rank GM W L OTL GAA SV%
Braden Holtby 24 20 48 23 15 4 2.85 .914
vs. Red Wings
1 1 0 0 2.80 .919






2014-15 OUTLOOK

Regular-Season Games vs. Red Wings: Oct. 29 (at WAS); Jan. 10 (at WAS); Apr. 5 (at DET).

ARRIVALS:  Forwards Chris Conner, Tim Kennedy, Kris Newbury; defensemen Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Mike Moore, Jon Landry; and goalie Justin Peters.

DEPARTURES:  Forwards Mikhail Grabovski, Dustin Penner and Joel Rechlicz; defenseman Tyson Strachan; and goalie David Leggio.

Holtby
PLAYER TO WATCH: By not spending even more money in free agency to acquire a veteran backup like Martin Brodeur or Tomas Vokoun, the Capitals basically have told Braden Holtby that he is their man this season. Instead, the Caps went out and signed Justin Peters (two years, $1.9 million) to be more of a traditional backup that will allow Holtby to start about 80 percent of the games. The signing is a good indicator for Holtby who doesn’t have to worry about an older, more experienced backup taking his No. 1 job during the season. Still, it’s a big year for Holtby, who enters the final year of a two-year contract after posting a 23-15-4 record with a 2.85 goals-against average and a career-low .915 save percentage.

SEASON SCOPE: The Capitals spent more money than any other NHL team in free agency this summer – an estimated $70 million – while getting tougher on the blue line with the acquisitions of two guys, Matt Niskanen (seven years, $40.25 million) and Brooks Orpik (five years, $27.5 million), who were defensive stalwarts during their time in Pittsburgh. By adding the pair, the Capitals believe they’ve addressed a major concern, bringing in veteran leadership to a unit that used an NHL-high 14 different defensemen last season.

Niskanen led all NHL defensemen with a plus-33 rating last season, and, under new coach Barry Trotz, he’ll be counted on to run the Caps’ power play with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, who finished 1-2 in the league in power-play points with 44 and 39, respectively.

2014-15 EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEWS
Atlantic Division Metropolitan Division
Buffalo (July 24) Carolina (Aug. 7)
Boston (sep. 11) Columbus (Aug. 21)
Florida (July 29) New Jersey (Aug. 14)
Montreal (Sep. 2) NY Islanders (July 31)
Ottawa (Aug. 12) NY Rangers (Aug. 28)
Tampa Bay (Sep. 4) Philadelphia (Aug. 26)
Toronto (Aug. 5) Pittsburgh (sep. 9)
Washington (Aug. 19)




SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
4 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 50 17 18 23 35
H. Zetterberg 51 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 50 14 16 -3 30
G. Nyquist 51 14 13 -4 27
J. Abdelkader 51 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 36 6 18 10 24
M. Green 45 3 17 -8 20
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
D. DeKeyser 47 6 8 10 14
R. Sheahan 50 7 6 -15 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 18 10 4 .931 2.06
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89