Washinton Capitals 2014-2015
After a devastating 2013-2014 season the Capitals were in a bad spot. Although Alex Ovechkin had a good goal scoring season the capitals managed to not make the playoffs. The first time since 2007-2008 season. It was the first year after the restructuring of the league. The Capitals were placed in the Metropolitan Division with Pittsburg, New York Rangers and Islanders, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Columbus, and Carolina. Now at the time of the restructure the Penguins, Rangers, Flyers and Capitals were all fairly good teams. Unfortunately the Capitals did not make the playoffs and the management had to make some hard decisions.
The Capitals started to make some off season moves and it started with the firing of ADam Oates and their General Manager. As the off season progressed the Capitals resigned/signed the following players:
- Michael Latta to a 2 year $1.1 million dollar contract.
- Defenseman Matt Niskanen form the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 7 year $40.2 million dollar deal
- Goalie Justin Peters from Carolina for a 2 year $1 million dollar deal
- Defensemen Brooks Orpik from Pittsburgh for a 5 year $27.5 million dollar deal
- Resigned Defenseman Nate Schmidt for a one year 625K dollar deal
- Traded Mattieu Perrault to Anaheim for Forward John Mitchell
- Traded Dustin Penner for a draft pick
The Capitals also brought in long time Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz. It was a fantastic requisition. They brought in a coach who would not pander to the players but also would let them play to their strengths. He is also a Western Conference coach who I think is a great pick up by Washington. The Capitals have a new goalie coach, Mitch Korn, who has put Braden Holtby through new and rigorous training. What Korn has done with Holtby has been amazing since we have seen his progrees from last year to this year. Holtby was a top twenty goalie last year but he is a top five goalie this year.
With the new requisitions of a new coach and the addition of the much needed defensemen the Capitals season looked good. As the season started they were questions about Holtby and the defense. Holtby had been a great goalie but he did not have a much needed backup. There were questions of Defensemen Mike Green and how he would play this season. Up to the Winter Classic there was no doubt that the Capitals were a team to reckon with. They had played very well and were not relying on Alex Ovechkin to win games for them. The Capitals were winning games and playing very well. After the Winter Classic and the All Star break, however the Capitals had a stretch of losses. Losing 6 of 7 after the All Star break. But as all this was happening we saw the outstanding performance of Braden Holtby. They had played Holtby in most of the Capitals games and he has won 25 games this year. As of right now Holtby has a save percentage of .925, a goals against of 2.14 and 6 shutouts this year. His shutouts this year most notably come against the Penguins twice and most recently the LA Kings.
Alex Ovechkin is also having a great year so far. He is currently tied with Rick Nash for the league leading goals at 32 also leading the league in shots with 108. Nicklas Backstrom is also a league leader in points and assists with 54 points so far this year and 38 assists. Defensemen John Carlson and Mike Green are both having great years as well. Carlson has 36 points with 30 assists. MIke Green has been hot in the past few months he has 32 points. Eric Fehr, Troy Brower, Marcus Johannsen and Jay Beagle are all a career high in goals. Both Brower and Fehr have been very hot recently.
So far this year Washington defense has been wonderful. The addition of Orpik and Niskanen has really improved the Caps defense. Carl Alzner and John Carlson had been defensemen partners since they came into the league. Not that they were playing poorly but they got too complacent. Once they were switched up you can see the difference that it has made. Mike Green knowing that the Capitals may not sign him next has been playing like he did in 2007-2008. Green has played with a new sense of urgency with great goals and over two dozen assists. Even his defense has stepped up with blocked shots and great steals. With a 3rd ranked power play and a 18th ranked penalty kill the Capitals have been very productive on special teams. New this year is that Alex Ovechkin is not playing the whole two minutes on the power play. For over the past five years Ovechkin has played the full time on the power play and the three previous coaches have never tried to take him off. Barrry Trotz has a new way of thinking. Instead of wearing Ovechkin out Trotz has been only keeping Ovechkin on for about half or three quarters of the power play.
Power Play %
Penalty Kill %
So far the season has been wonderful. There were ups and downs so far but it looks as if the Capitals are a shoe in for the playoffs. Hopefully they will break through their playoff slump and maybe get further than the last few years. I think as the year goes on the Capitals need to address some things. First is the problem of a backup goalie so they do not wear out Holtby. If they keep playing Holtby as this pace he is going to be done by the post season. Justin Peters is an ok goalie but he has not performer as well as the Capitals thought. Peters is 2-5-1 in his eight games played. They will need a solid backup for Holtby. As long as the players stay healthy the only other thing that the Capitals would have to work on is making sure their players stop making some very silly penalties. Jason Chimera was placed on the fourth line after some bad penalties and some bad play. Recently he is making a comeback to prove to Barry Trotz that he is not a fourth line guy.
Who is the best player(non-goalie) in the NHL this season?
So as the end of the season approaches we see that the Capitals have to think about who they are going to resign and who might be let go. Next Jay Beagle, John Erskine, Eric Fehr, Mike Green, Jack Hillen, Aaron Volpatti, and Joel Ward are unrestricted free agents. Evgeny Kuznetzov, Marcus Johannsen, and Braden Holtby are all restricted free agent. So the Caps have some decisions to make. I think that Mike Green is definitely going to be going to another team. If John Erskine can stay healthy he will probably stay with the Caps but if he cannot he will probably retire. Eric Fehr may be used as trade bait but I think the Caps will keep him. The others will all probably be resigned. Braden Holtby is looking at a huge deal coming his way. It will probably be a 4 or 5 year 20-25 million dollar contract. I think both Johannsen and Kuznetzov will both be receiving new contracts as well. The Caps will probably need to pick up at least one good goalie and probably one or two defensemen. If Mike Green does leave and Erskine is out then the Caps will need a few new players. I think that the Caps have a great chance this year. Thanks for reading.