Caps Win Rookie Game
The Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3, in their rookie game Thurday afternoon at Kettler IcePlex. Highlights of the tilt are up at washingtoncaps.com. Cody Eakin, who was taken in the 3rd round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by Washington, notched the game winner while 2010 3rd rounder Stanislav Galiev tallied first for the red, white, and blue by going to the net and banging home a Marcus Johansson (2009 1st round selection) feed. Defenseman Josh Godfrey (2007 2nd round choice) tallied twice for Washington on the power play in between those markers. Philip Grubauer (2010 4th round selection), who won the Memorial Cup with Windsor this past spring, started in net and gave way to Brandon Anderson, who played for Lethbridge of the WHL last season. Based on the highlights alone, it looks like Grubauer was very strong in net while Anderson had some struggles. The Capitals plan on posting the entire feed of the contest on their website sometime Thursday evening. Even though it was just a rookie game, it is always fun when the Caps beat the Flyers.
Interview with Dustin Stevenson
After Wednesday’s practice I had a chance to catch up with 21 year old defenseman Dustin Stevenson, who the Caps signed this off-season as a free agent out of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). Stevenson, who is wearing #66 with Washington, had 11 goals, 36 assists and 134 PIMs in 56 games for the La Ronge Ice Wolves and he was also named 2009-10 SJHL Player of the Year. During the Caps July development camp he was very noticeable in a positive way and was one of the big surprises of that week. Here is the transcript of the interview with the 6′ 5″ blue liner:
WNST: Tell us a little bit about how the first four days have gone and what your expectations are for the coming season?
Stevenson: The past few days have gone well. It is nice getting to know all of these guys that are in the system. I think we came together well as a team over the past few days. I’m learning the systems a bit here and getting ready for the big game [on Thursday vs. the Flyers]. I guess my expectations for this year is to take as much as I can from these camps, try and sponge up as much as I can. Wherever they put me I’ll try and make the best of it.
WNST: You are a pro this year so you are going to play in either Hershey or South Carolina, correct?
Stevenson: That’s right, [Hershey] is my goal for now but they’ll do whatever they think is best for me. So like I said I’ll try and make the best of wherever they put me.
WNST: If someone asked you to describe your game, what type of style you play and your strengths, how would you answer that?
Stevenson: I like to think that I am pretty good at moving the puck. I try and play a physical game too. I was on the power play back with my old team and quarterbacked that. I like to think that I am a bit of an offensive defenseman as well.
WNST: Tell me a little bit about the Saskatchewan league last year, how your team did, and what that did to prepare you for this move up in your career.
Stevenson: I had great coaching on my old team. We won the league so it helped to get that extra couple of months in and playoffs and everything and I learned quite a bit. Like I said I had good coaching along the way so to win the league was awesome.
WNST: Who was your coach?
Stevenson: Bob Beatty and Gavin Holcomb. Bob played pro for a quite a few years and he was kind of a tough nosed defenseman, so I learned a lot from him.
WNST: What are some of the areas that you want to improve on?
Stevenson: Obviously I need to work on my foot speed a little bit. I think everyone needs to do that when they make the next step up. I also think just concentrate on my d-zone and playing good defense. The guys are bigger and stronger and faster in pro. I’m going to have to make sure that I am prepared as much as possible for them coming down on me one-on-one. It’s going to be a bit of a change. So just work on my d-zone a bit.
WNST: What have the coaches, either Bruce [Boudreau], Mark [French], or Troy [Mann], said to you since rookie camp or this week?
Stevenson: After prospects camp I talked to Bruce and he said he really didn’t know what to expect with me coming from Tier II Junior A. He said he was happy with the way my camp went and to just keep working hard and take the rest of my summer to train and try and get better and come back to this rookie camp and compete the way I did in the summer camp and see what happens.
WNST: Coming from Tier II Junior A and now competing against high draft picks like Evgeni Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson, and Stan Galiev has there been a big change for you speedwise?
Stevenson: It hasn’t been too bad. They are definitely very skilled players but it is nice to have them on your team as well because the better the players are around you the better that makes me play. I think they are very skilled players but I haven’t found it too hard. I think I fit in well.
WNST: What do you look for in a defensive partner, given that you said offense is your strength?
Stevenson: My defense partner I played with last season, he and I just gelled well. You know they can put me with anybody and as I get to know the way they play you kind of work with each other and I’m sure whoever they put me with will be fine.
WNST: So how did you end up with Washington?
Stevenson: I was just playing back in Saskatchewan and I guess I got scouted a little bit and then [Caps Director, Player Development] Steve Richmond came out and watched me play a couple of times. I just met with him. He took me out for dinner a couple of times to meet my family and ask me what my future plans were and I told him I was going to college. The original plan was he wanted me to do that, he thought that was a good idea, but then I guess he had a change of heart and he offerred me a contract so I talked it over with my family there and we felt it was the best decision for me and we feel it would be the best for my development.
Notes: Friday is off-ice testing at Kettler IcePlex for the Caps players so their will be no media availability or coverage. Training camp officially begins, for the veterans, on Saturday. At 10am Group A will practice followed by Group B at 1115am and Group C at 1pm. On Sunday, at Noon, Group B takes on Group C in game one of the three day round robin scrimmage event with the winner hoisting the Gaetan Duchesne Cup following Tuesday’s tilt.