The Washington Capitals finalized their NHL roster on Tuesday at 3pm, as required by the NHL, in preparation for Saturday’s season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 pm at the Verizon Center. The final roster is really no surprise (especially if you follow this blog or me on twitter: @EdFrankovic) and is listed below.
Forwards: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Semin, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer, Mike Knuble, Marcus Johansson, Joel Ward, Jason Chimera, Jeff Halpern, Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle, Mathieu Perreault, and DJ King
Defensemen: Mike Green, Roman Hamrlik, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Dennis Wideman, Jeff Schultz, and John Erskine
Goalies: Tomas Vokoun and Michael Neuvirth
Forwards Cody Eakin and Mattias Sjogren plus defensemen Dmitry Orlov were sent to Hershey this afternoon and will get more seasoning in the American Hockey League. Defensemen Tom Poti is injured and as a result will not count against the salary cap (I doubt he will ever play for Washington again given his injury situation).
In other Caps news, Ovechkin, whose uncle passed away unexpectedly, did practice today but was slated to leave Tuesday after practice for Russia for the funeral. The Gr8 plans to come back on Friday and play in Saturday night’s season opener.
Last season, many of the Capitals came into training camp feeling the hangover effects of their first round playoff loss to Montreal and didn’t get themselves in the best of shape for the regular season. While the Caps still wound up as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, they really didn’t have their game honed for the post season. This summer, GM George McPhee let it be known that the players were required to be in better shape for camp and based on what I’ve seen and heard, that guidance was absolutely followed. The key now for the Caps is to get off to a fast start and incorporate the new faces that were added in the offseason.
For me, the biggest focus of the regular season should be on team defense and goaltending, because that is what wins Stanley Cups. The Boston Bruins were outstanding in their own zone in the post season and their goalie found ways to steal games in the playoffs. Washington must really work on that aspect of their game this regular season and build on Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau’s system change from last December, which was definitely the right way to go if the Caps are ever going to make the Stanley Cup Finals. The Caps, believe it or not, were 4th in the league in goals against in the regular season last year. However, partly due to injuries, they did not sustain that level of success in the playoffs. Team defense includes the forwards and if done correctly, then the goaltender’s job becomes exponentially easier because he will know where the opponents shots are coming from. From what I’ve seen in preseason, the Capitals have a lot of work to do in this area but I do think the players all realize that the regular season does indeed matter. I’ll be providing lots of analysis on Washington’s play in their own zone as the season progresses.
Notes: The Capitals and Penguins today announced a joint effort to raise money for the families of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, the KHL team that perished in a plane crash Sept. 7 in Russia. Caps and Pens players will wear jerseys with commemorative Lokomotiv patches at the Oct. 13 game, then autograph the game-worn and game-issued jerseys afterward and auction them off at www.nhl.com. All proceeds will benefit the Lokomotitv players’ children and families…Caps Red Line (CRL), presented by GEICO, is returning for a special preseason episode on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet. CRL takes viewers behind the scenes of the weeks leading up to the regular season. Replays will air on Friday, Oct. 7 at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 8 at 9 a.m. on Comcast SportsNet and on WashingtonCaps.com.