Through the first nine games of the season, defensemen for the Capitals have accrued 15 assists. That comes to 38 percent of the total number of assists for the entire team. All six d-men who have suited up for the Caps have gotten at least two assists; only six forwards can say that. Even Karl Alzner has gotten on the scoreboard, recording the only two goals scored by Capitals defensemen this season.
This has all been by design (minus Alzner scoring). Washington’s defensemen have been more active in the Capitals offensive game on the rush and in the zone. Barry Trotz has been stressing the need to work the puck from high-to-low in the offensive zone for his entire tenure in Washington, and he — along with assistant coach Todd Rierden — doubled down on that point in training camp.
Here are the three things I’ve noticed that have made the Caps defensemen more productive this season.
Tuesday morning, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman released his latest 30 Thoughts column. Friedman had four bullet points about the Caps, including explanations into why this is the last chance for this current iteration of the team to win the Stanley Cup.
According to Friedman, Brian MacLellan is planning to offer new contracts for Karl Alzner and Evgeny Kuznetsov and it could get pricey.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” MacLellan told Friedman. “We’re not sure what the dynamic is going to be. There are so many questions…how we do (this season) is going to answer a lot of them.”
Special teams was key to the Washington Capitals’ success last season. The team has long been known for its vaunted power play, but the Caps captured the Presidents’ Trophy in large part due to their brilliant penalty kill, which stopped their opponents 85.2 percent of the time, second only to the Anaheim Ducks.
This year, however, the Caps PK is faltering. They are the fourth-worst unit in the NHL, allowing goals 28.6 percent of the time that their enemy has the man-advantage. Washington has allowed power play goals in four of the five games they’ve played, including a Jimmy Vesey tally Saturday night against the New York Rangers.
“I think it’s just little things here and there we need to work on and continue to get better on,” center Jay Beagle said. “We’re obviously not happy. That’s not good enough.”
For those of you that haven’t stepped outside the last couple days, the weather has been absolutely glorious. TJ Oshie and Karl Alzner took advantage of the beautiful weather by having a park playdate with their daughters, Lyla Oshie and Stella Alzner.
Opening night is fast approaching and the Washington Capitals’ roster is taking shape, especially on the defensive end where there were no personnel changes during the offseason. However, it appears that a fairly significant change is coming to the back-end pairings. Dmitry Orlov will begin the season paired with John Carlson on the second unit while Nate Schmidt will start the season with Brooks Orpik. Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzer will remain together as the team’s shtudown pair.
Moving Orlov up in the pecking order to play with Carlson suggests that the the Caps are comfortable placing a greater deal of trust in him. Trust in a defenseman means putting him on the ice for big minutes and game-breaking situations, and believing that the good will outweigh the bad in both zones.
Let’s take a look at which of last year’s defensive pairs were the most utilized and trusted in terms of deployments, and how much that might have to change with Orlov no longer on the third pair.
On Wednesday, CSN released a snippet of their upcoming Capitals Central show (Sunday, 8:30 pm) and they just posted some of its high-brow, all-access content.
Let me set the scene. Karl Alzner’s daughter Stella is seen standing by a towel rack and holds up a dachshund-patterned towel. The Alzner family has two (destructive) wiener dogs so clearly that got her excited. So excited in fact, that Stella went into a trance and may have soiled her self.
On Sunday, Anson met another Caps baby born this summer, Leni Rose Oshie. Leni is TJ and Lauren Oshie’s second child born in late June.
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