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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 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
5 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 52 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 53 9 27 3 36
T. Tatar 52 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 53 14 15 -2 29
P. Datsyuk 38 8 20 12 28
J. Abdelkader 53 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 39 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 49 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 20 10 4 .933 1.97
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89