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Caps Give Game Away to Wings

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Caps Give Game Away to Wings

Posted on 30 October 2014 by Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals did several good things on Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

They dominated the Wings for nearly two periods and won the puck possession battle, out shot attempting Detroit, 58-42, overall.

But the Caps made some glaring mistakes, including some awful turnovers, and as a result they lost, 4-2, and now fall to 4-3-2 through nine games.

The stat of the night was the 10-3 deficit in the giveaway column and three of those 10 led to quality scoring chances and goals for the Wings.

Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky, and John Carlson had the misplays that did the most damage, but give Detroit credit, especially on the 2nd and 3rd goals as the talented Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were instrumental in those markers. In addition, Datsyuk ended any chance of a Capitals comeback notching the fourth Detroit tally on the power play by taking advantage of Washington having Evgeny Kuzentsov out on the penalty kill (he got stuck on at the end of a 4 on 4 situation). Bottom line is Datsyuk and Zetterberg are elite NHL players and if you don’t play properly against them, they will defeat you.

Alexander Ovechkin was held without a point for the fifth straight game. That’s concerning and the Gr8 could help his cause by going to the front of the net and using his size and strength for some gritty type goals. Ovi did have 13 shot attempts, 7 of which were on net, so he had chances.

Still, the way the Caps are dominating puck possession is a good sign. The upgrades to the Caps blue line hasn’t gone unnoticed, at least by Wings Coach Mike Babcock.

“I didn’t think we were very good early. I thought they skated way better than us. [Washington] spent a lot of money in the off season to improve their back-end, and they’ve done that,” stated Babcock after the contest (it is believed that Detroit was in both the Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen sweepstakes, only to lose them to the Caps).

Burakovsky, who is only 19, made some super plays in spite of his mistake on Detroit’s second goal. He is big and plays fast. His speed and ability to carry the puck led to the Capitals second goal by Troy Brouwer, who buried a sweet no look pass from Carlson after Burakovsky had the entire Detroit crew chasing him.

Kuznetsov scored Washington’s first tally following a great breakout pass by Braden Holtby to Joel Ward. Kuzy is getting better each game with the North American rink. As for Holtby, he was hung out to dry a few times but Trotz would’ve liked to have seen him stop the winning tally. Holtby was super at moving the puck and #70 told me that there isn’t more emphasis on moving the puck from past regimes, however, he did say the team was more aware of that play and are on the same page. So that’s a good sign going forward because having a goalie that can play the puck so well is like having a third defensemen on the ice.

At the end of the night, the Capitals new look and style is being recognized by their opponents.

“In the first period, I thought, [Washington] took it to us there. They played a good period. They’re playing really hard, they’re playing a little different style than they’re used to playing. Before it was more wide open but you see that Trotz came in and really has them playing hard,” said Justin Abdelkader, who scored twice for Detroit.

Still, puck possession only takes you so far if you don’t finish your chances, and the Capitals missed several good looks. Jimmy Howard (25 saves) made some timely stops, as well. In addition, you cannot have the glaring mistakes that Washington has been making lately. The team has to play hard, but also smart.

The Caps are struggling right now, having dropped three of their last four games, but Trotz sees this as a chance to overcome some adversity and be better for it in the long run.

“When [things] are not coming easy, the thing is to keep guys focused on not trying to cheat and trying to look for the easy way out of things. You’ve just got to put your nose to the grindstone and plow through it. If you can get everybody on the same page plowing through a bit of adversity, when you get through that adversity you become a better group,” finished Trotz.

It sounds simple, but looking for the quick fix is human nature, so it will be very important for this talented team to stay the course and pay extra attention to Coach Trotz so they can build on the good things they are doing and minimize the mistakes.

It’s a work in progress.

Notes: Detroit had a clear goal wiped out to start the game when the referees called a phantom interference penalty on Luke Glendening. That zebra miscue led to a very weird first period. Bottom line is the referees must be better. I’ve seen several games around the league this season where the officiating has been subpar…there were only 40 faceoffs in the contest and the teams split them. Burakovsky was 5-1 for Washington…Ovechkin, Brooks Orpik, and Nicklas Backstrom were all -2. Ovi and Backstrom were not on the same line until the 3rd period…Tom Wilson made his season debut and only played 8:14. His timing was noticeably and understandably off…next up for the Caps is the Lightning in Tampa on Saturday night.

 

 

 

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Ward & Orpik Lead Caps over Flames

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Ward & Orpik Lead Caps over Flames

Posted on 26 October 2014 by Ed Frankovic

Those following this blog and listening to the frequent radio bits I’ve been doing recently with Nestor Aparacio know that I’m high on this year’s Capitals team because of two primary reasons: the addition of an experienced coach in Barry Trotz and the improved blue line.

After seven games, the Capitals are now 4-1-2 after a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday.

The reason they are off to such a great start: they are playing a structured system and they have the players on the back end to execute it.

Washington’s defensive crew was once again outstanding in the game against Calgary as the Caps dominated puck possession and kept the Flames on the perimeter for the majority of the evening.

Brooks Orpik was dynamite for the Capitals in this one doling out 10 hits and setting up the game winning goal with a super breakout pass. There are some in the fancy stats community that will put little stock in hits, citing that most of the time the club with more hits are the ones chasing the biscuit around and losing the puck possession battle. That was not the case in Calgary on Saturday, when Oprik took the body the result on several occasions was the Calgary player was removed from the puck and the Capitals went the other way in transition. Simply put, #44 brings a presence to the Capitals back end that they have not had in several years. His addition, and the super signing of Matt Niskanen, has allowed Trotz to spread the minutes out on defense (John Carlson led the club in ice time at a modest 22:52 against the Flames). That minimizes the ability of the opponents to get a matchup advantage at certain points in the game and it also allows the Capitals players to stay fresher. Mike Green is having a monster season in this system by playing roughly 20 minutes a game. #52 can play to his strengths and he was fabulous again on Saturday. You can add Karl Alzner to that list too, his feed to Nicklas Backstrom on the 3rd goal was a super stretch pass. #27 is playing his best hockey in years, as well.

Up front, Trotz tweaked his lines after the loss in Edmonton moving Eric Fehr back up with Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. That line scored the Caps 3rd goal and the Gr8 drew the penalty that led to the game’s first goal, a Joel Ward power play marker. Ward, who was shifted down to the 4th line, had his best outing of 2014-15 with the two goals to earn the game’s number one star. Ward, who had the coverage mistake on the Oilers first goal on Wednesday, was back to moving his feet and winning the puck battles.

Andre Burakovsky didn’t have a point on Saturday, but he continues to play like he’s 25 and his line dominated in the possession department. This young man has been the most pleasant surprise of the young season. Evgeny Kuznetsov, flanked by Jay Beagle and Jason Chimera, also had a strong game and looks to be adjusting to the North American rink. If Washington can get some scoring coming from multiple lines they are going to be a hard team to beat in the Metropolitan Division and in the Eastern Conference.

In net, Braden Holtby had his usual Saturday night special performance. He stopped 20 of 21 shots, with the biggest being a shorthanded breakaway late in regulation with the game at 3-1. That save effectively ended the Flames chances, which is what you want your goaltender to do, make the big save when you need it. Overall though, Braden benefitted from the strong defensive play from his teammates as Calgary was kept wide for many of their shot attempts.

So now it is on to Vancouver for a Sunday night date with the Canucks for the Caps. A win in BC would give the Capitals a nice 2-1 road trip. Back to back games are tough, especially given the long flight from Calgary to Vancouver in the early hours of Sunday morning, but because Trotz is able to spread the ice time around, the Capitals should have no major excuses in terms of fatigue.

Notes: The Caps out shot attempted the Flames, 52-46…Washington won the faceoff battle, 30-28..the Caps had 30 hits to 25 for Calgary…the penalty called on Orpik near the end of the 2nd period was ridiculous. Referees Kelly Sutherland and Paul Devorski did not have one of their better nights.

 

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Ovechkin and Caps Off to a Fast Start

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Ovechkin and Caps Off to a Fast Start

Posted on 15 October 2014 by Ed Frankovic

On Tuesday night at the Verizon Center, the Washington Capitals rallied from a 3-0 first period deficit to force a 5-5 tie before ultimately losing in the gimmick to one of the best teams in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks. It was a thrilling game in which Alexander Ovechkin was the best player on the ice notching two goals and an assist. After three tilts the Capitals are 1-0-2, losing both games in the shootout, and the Gr8 has four goals and an assist over that span.

If you’ve watched the first three games of the Washington Capitals season, then you’ve seen the night and day difference in this hockey club from Caps teams in recent years. The blue line depth is something this organization has not seen in the Ovechkin era and Coach Barry Trotz has the personnel playing to their strengths and easily allowing elite players like the Gr8 and Mike Green to buy in, something that numerous people in the hockey media questioned prior to the season. Ovechkin went down to block a shot in the first period, added another block later on, had 14 shot attempts (including 8 on Antti Niemi), and five hits to go with his offensive output. He was more than worth the price of admission on Tuesday night.

After Ovechkin, in the game against the Sharks, the next best player on the rink was Green. #52 was absolutely fabulous with a goal, an assist, and it was his pass to Jason Chimera down the left wing boards that sprung #25 allowing him to draw a key penalty that led to Ovechkin’s goal that brought this one to 5-4 with just under six minutes left. Green would then feed Troy Brouwer less than two minutes later down the left wing boards for the game tying tally prompting the Verizon Center to erupt.

Simply put, if Green continues to play like he’s done in his first two games this Capitals club is going to be very, very good.

Why do I see Green continuing to play at the top of his game?

First, he’s being afforded the freedom to play to his strengths, which is carrying the puck and creating offense and space for his teammates.

“I think he doesn’t limit you, you obviously have to play within the system but he wants you to create and do the things you do well as a player and he encourages that,” said Green when asked about Trotz allowing creativity in contrast to the “five foot rule” that Adam Oates preferred the past two seasons.

Second, he’s in a system that will bring out the best in his defensive side of the ice.

“I feel good, the system and the way we play is very detailed and yet very easy to play. Although there is a lot of thinking, it’s great for the defensemen what they’re asking of us, and I feel very comfortable. There’s a plan for every situation on the ice and it’s just a matter of executing,” added Green.

Third, with the addition of Matt Niskanen, along with 2014 Team USA Olympian John Carlson, the Capitals are loaded on the right side of the blue line. Therefore, Game Over Greenie doesn’t have to log all of the hard minutes like he’s had to do in the past. Green only played 22:08 of the 65 minutes, but because of that, he was super fresh down the stretch and he was a major difference maker in the Capitals comeback.

“It’s great, I felt like I played a lot, I’m not sure how much, but I still had my legs at the end of the game, even in overtime, so when in the past maybe you’re playing a little bit more and there is more responsibility on yourself, but there’s three guys that can play, so it’s great,” said Green about the ability of the team to spread the ice time on defense.

Overall, Green looks to be as happy as I’ve seen him in several years thanks to the deep blue line that GM Brian MacLellan has assembled for 2014-15.

“Absolutely, the depth we have is incredible. It’s just a matter of being consistent every night,” finished Green.

Consistency is always an issue in hockey. The Capitals had some problems there on Tuesday, falling behind 3-0 in the first 10 minutes. Braden Holtby, who had thwarted 52 of 53 shots in the first two games, was unable to come up with a big save after some Capitals turnovers and was replaced by Justin Peters. Peters allowed two goals on 16 shots but he yielded juicy rebounds on both tallies against him. In addition, there were missed passes and mistakes by different players. Evgeny Kuznetsov, who overall had a strong game (1 assist), missed a breakout pass from Brooks Orpik that was right on his stick and that directly led to John Scott’s tally that made it 3-0. Those mistakes should get cleaned up over time, especially ones by younger players like Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky (1 assist).

Still, you have to be pleased with the way this team held together mentally and didn’t pack it in when it was 3-0, 4-1, and even 5-3 early in period three. The club is talented and believes in the system they are playing which aids their ability to rally.

So it’s three games in and the Capitals have yet to be defeated prior to the gimmick. The four points in the three games have all come against 2013-14 playoff teams so it’s fair to say Washington is off to a fast start.

This club has a lot of skill and a talented blue line. The depth on defense is something this organization has lacked in recent years and is a major reason why I see the team continuing to improve.

Notes: Despite Carlson (two assists) having a rough first 50+ minutes, #74 didn’t let that bother him and he was pretty much a one man penalty killing unit at the end of regulation and early in overtime as Washington survived a Nicklas Backstrom (two assists) high stick…the Caps were smoked at the dot, 13-5, in the first frame but rallied to finish 32-33 for the night…shot attempts were 71-56 in favor of the Capitals, who dominated puck possession for much of the last 55 minutes…Niskanen led the Capitals and Sharks in ice time with 26:47 and he was superb at both ends of the rink…the Caps next game is Thursday night at 7 pm against the New Jersey Devils at the Verizon Center.

 

 

 

 

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Expectations Are High for the Caps in 2014-15

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Expectations Are High for the Caps in 2014-15

Posted on 14 September 2014 by Ed Frankovic

After an off season of much needed major changes, the Washington Capitals are finally set to open training camp this Friday, September 19th at Kettler IcePlex.

Expectations for the 2014-15 Caps, who will host the 2015 Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park at 1 pm on January 1st, are extremely high after they spent big dollars to upgrade their defense and brought in an experienced NHL coach in Barry Trotz to work with new General Manager Brian MacLellan.

How much of an impact will those changes have on a team that missed the post season in 2013-14?

The impact will be significant and I’ll go so far as to say that a Metropolitan Division title and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final is very much within their reach.

Here are seven items, in order of importance, on why to be optimistic about the Capitals chances this season.

1. Improved Defense. Last year it was painfully clear that the Capitals blue line was their biggest issue from a talent standpoint so MacLellan wisely went out and upgraded what has been the weakest part of this team for several years. Adding Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to Mike Green, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Dmitry Orlov gives the Caps three strong defensive pairs. This is easily the most talented blue line the Capitals have had since 1998. When you have a sub par defense, it is much harder to get the puck out of your own zone and also feed it to your offensive players so that they can generate scoring chances. Therefore, it is no surprise that Washington’s puck possession statistics had steadily declined over the last several seasons with management failing to address the blue line deficiencies. Expect to see the Capitals improve greatly in puck possession this season now that they have a legitimate defense. For more about the depth the Caps have compiled on defense and a summary on each player, check out Mike Vogel’s recent Dump ‘n Chase blog here.

2. Experienced Coach. To quote the great Jim Ignatowski from Taxi, “There’s no substitute for experience.” The Capitals badly needed a coaching change and they sorely needed someone who knows the league. Hiring Barry Trotz, who previously coached in Nashville since 1997, was a no brainer. Trotz cut his teeth in the coaching business with the Capitals back in Baltimore in the early 1990′s and was the Predators only bench boss until they decided to go a different direction this past off season. The Predators routinely spent well below the NHL salary cap yet Trotz was often able to get a less talented squad to bond together and overachieve. In 2011, they gave the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks all they could handle before bowing out in six games in round two.  Now Barry comes to Washington, a team that spends to the cap on personnel, and he has a crew of talented players that have struggled to bond and succeed. Getting players to work together is a Trotz specialty and Barry has already put that process in motion by appointing a leadership group to help foster communication between the coaches and the players, something that has not happened very well in DC the last several years. Leadership should not be all on the captain and alternates, it’s a group effort, and Trotz recognizes in order to win everyone has to be on the same page (As an example, this “leadership as a group” concept worked very well for Ken Hitchcock when he coached the Stanley Cup Champion Dallas Stars in 1999). Trotz’s ability to get the Caps to be “a team” is his most important task, but his knowledge of systems and the other coaches and personnel around the league will be a huge plus too. The Capitals hit a home run with this choice as coach, he was the best commodity on the market and looks to be a great fit.

3. Braden Holtby. The coaching change and revamped defense will arguably benefit #70 more than any other Caps player. He should face less shots on net because the Capitals will have the puck more thanks to a better defense and a new system. In addition, he will work with proven goalie coach Mitch Korn, who came over from Nashville with Trotz. Korn, who has helped Tomas Vokoun and Pekka Rinne rise to the top of their games, should bring out the best in Holtby’s strengths. Also, the NHL has expanded the trapezoid by two feet on each side which will allow Holtby to play the puck more, something that he is good at and a skill that takes the heat off of the defensemen. Holtby has the ability to be a 3rd d-man, at times, so I expect Trotz to utilize that strength, something that former Coach Adam Oates failed to develop. I’d also expect the league to totally dump the trapezoid in the coming years. After all, they are trying to promote skill and allowing the goalies to play the puck fits in with that motto while also helping to reduce injuries on defensemen (perhaps we’d see fewer concussions?). Simply put, the Martin Brodeur rule needs to go.

4. Alex Ovechkin. The Gr8 scored 51 goals last season but much has been made of his -35. Plus minus is a team statistic and let’s face it, with the thin blue line the Capitals had last season it is no surprise they gave up so many even strength goals. Ovechkin had 24 of his tallies on the power play last campaign so it might be tough for him to hit 51 overall given that opponents will likely key on him on the man advantage. But Alex only had 28 assists in 2013-14 for a total of 79 points. With the improved talent around him, I have to think Ovechkin gets at least 90 points in 2013-14. Alex and his line mates should spend less time in their own zone with the improved blue line and as mentioned above, they’ll get the puck in better position to head up the ice, as well. 100 points for the Gr8 in 2014-15 could very well happen.

5. Mike Green. Heading into the final year of his contract, Green is in great shape and happy to be a part of Trotz’s leadership group. #52 is a very talented player who can drive puck possession. Unfortunately, due to a lack of blue line depth the last several years, the Capitals coaching staff has struggled to find the right partner for him. It’s very possible Orpik could be the stay at home and physical player that Green needs to succeed at an elite level once again. This could be a big year for Green because he won’t have all of the pressure on him to carry the back end with the additions of Orpik and Niskanen.

6. Evgeny Kuznetsov. “Kuzy” came over last spring and he had a lot of adjusting to do to play in the NHL yet he still managed nine points in 17 games. Judging by those last several games, he is an immense talent who likely will produce on one of the Capitals top two lines in 2014-15. The 22 year old has had the off season to prepare for a grueling 82 game grind but he knows what he is up against now because of last spring’s experience and he’ll be better because of it. Expect him to bigger, stronger, and more productive.

7. Brooks Laich. It’s hard to believe, but it hasn’t even been two years since Laich initially injured his groin during the 2012-13 NHL lockout. With the Caps eliminated from the post season last spring, #21 has had nearly six months to get healthy and initial reports are he is finally pain free and happy on the ice again. Laich is a heart and soul guy who is tough to play against. Brooks will fill a grinder role and be a fixture on the penalty kill. He’s also a guy who can work the front of the net on the second power play unit.

Last season was pretty much a disaster for the Capitals yet they only missed the post season by a handful of points. They are playing in a division that is wide open and you can throw the entire Eastern Conference into that equation, as well.

Clearly the play of the defense along with how this team bonds together under the new coaching staff are the two biggest keys to the season.

The talent is there for the Caps, but now they need to show a sense of urgency and execute.

Notes: Orlov and Tom Wilson, who were both injured after the Caps season ended, could see action late in September…the Caps first preseason game is this Sunday, September 21st at 5pm at the Verizon Center against the Buffalo Sabres.

 

 

 

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Capitals sign league’s first ever Australian pick to three year deal

Posted on 27 July 2014 by WNST Staff

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals have signed forward Nathan Walker to a three-year, entry-level contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.

Walker, 20, became the first Australian drafted to the NHL on June 28 after Washington selected him in the third round, 89th overall, in the 2014 NHL Draft. Walker registered 11 points (five goals, six assists) and 40 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2013-14.

During the 2012-13 season, Walker recorded 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) and 63 penalty minutes in 29 games with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. The 5’9”, 185-pound left wing represented Australia at the 2011 IIHF World Championship Division II tournament and at the 2012 World Championship Division 1 Group B tournament. Walker registered six points (four goals, two assists) and four penalty minutes in four games at the 2011 tournament and was named Australia’s best player by the tournament’s coaches.

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Capitals to make 12 appearances on NBC/NBCSN during 2014-2015 season

Posted on 22 July 2014 by WNST Staff

NBC SPORTS GROUP TO AIR 103 NHL REGULAR-SEASON GAMES IN 2014-15

NBCSN Opens Season on Oct. 8 with Philadelphia Flyers-Boston Bruins Wednesday Night Rivalry Matchup at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks at 10 p.m. ET

NHL Winter Classic Features Chicago Blackhawks at Washington Capitals from Washington, D.C. on January 1 at 1 p.m. ET on NBC

NBCSN Presents Coverage of 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Including 60th NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 25

31 Games Across NBC and NBCSN Feature Rematches from 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Including Both Conference Finals and Kings-Rangers on March 24

NBC Sports Live Extra to Stream All 103 Regular-Season Games

STAMFORD, Conn. — July 22, 2013 – Coming off of the most-watched NHL regular season ever on NBC and NBCSN, the most-watched Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006 and most-watched Stanley Cup Playoffs on cable in 17 years,NBC Sports Group will deliver coverage of 103 NHL regular-season games during the 2014-15 season, featuring 14 games on NBC and 89 games on NBCSN. All games will be streamed live via NBC Sports Live Extra. Schedule highlights include:

 

  • The season kicks off with an Opening Night doubleheader on Oct. 8 on NBCSN, starting withWednesday Night Rivalry coverage at 7:30 p.m. ET with the Philadelphia Flyers at the Boston Bruins.

 

  • NBCSN’s Opening Night coverage continues with a 2014 Stanley Cup Playoff rematch between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings from STAPLES Center at 10 p.m. ET in Los Angeles, as the Kings raise their 2014 Stanley Cup Championship banner to the rafters.

 

  • NBC will present the 2015 NHL Winter Classic from Washington, D.C., between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals on January 1 at 1 p.m. ET.

 

  • Making its return for the first time since 2012, NBCSN will present coverage of the NHL All-Star Game from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. All-Star weekend will take place Saturday, January 24 and Sunday, January 25 and will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ and the NHL All-Star Game.

 

  • The 2014-15 regular season on NBCSN will feature 24 Wednesday Night Rivalry telecasts, plus 10 Wednesday nightcaps that will showcase Western Conference teams, including the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche.

 

  • The Bruins, Flyers, Capitals, Kings and Sharks will each make 12 appearances across NBC and NBCSN, followed by seven teams that will appear 11.

 

  • This year’s regular-season coverage features 31 games spanning 14 of the 15 series from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including back-to-back rematches of the 2014 Western and Eastern Conference Finals on NBCSN (Blackhawks-Kings on Jan. 28, Canadiens-Rangers on Jan. 29), and a rematch of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final between the Rangers and Kings on March 24.

 

  • Bruins-Red Wings, Blackhawks-Blues, Penguins-Flyers and Kings-Sharks are the most featured matchups, each appearing four times on NBC and NBCSN.

 

  • 56 of NBC and NBCSN’s 103 telecasts feature at least one Western Conference team.

 

NBCSN will offer most games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights throughout the season. Beginning in January, a Sunday game will be added most weeks. NBCSN drops the puck on its coverage on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, NBCSN’s live pre- and post-game show, leading into coverage of Flyers-Bruins from TD Garden in Boston, Mass. at 7:30 p.m. ET. Coverage shifts to Los Angeles immediately following Flyers-Bruins with the banner-raising ceremony for the 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, before face off against San Jose Sharks at 10 p.m. ET.

NBC Sports Group’s NHL lead broadcast team will be comprised of two-time Emmy award-winning play-by-play voice Mike “Doc” Emrick, as well as analyst Eddie Olczyk and Emmy-award winning “Inside the Glass” analyst Pierre McGuire.

 

NHL ON NBC

NHL on NBC coverage begins on Friday, November 28 at 1 p.m. ET, with the NHL Thanksgiving Showdown featuring the New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers, marking the first of 14 games that will air on NBC during the regular season. Beginning on January 18, and continuing through the end of the regular season, NBC will present the NHL Game of the Week, generally occurring on Sunday afternoons. NBC will also present the Flyers and Rangers in primetime at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 28.

Last year, NBC posted its most-watched NHL regular season since its most-recent agreement with the league in the 2005-06 season, including last year’s NHL Stadium Series game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks, which averaged 2.8 million viewers and was the most-watched NHL regular-season game, excluding Winter Classics and regional coverage, since the advent of People Meters (1987).

 

NHL WINTER CLASSIC

The annual NHL Winter Classic will take place on January 1, 2015 in Washington, D.C., and will feature the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals. The 2014 NHL Winter Classic will be broadcast on NBC at 1 p.m. ET.

The 2014 NHL Winter Classic on NBC tied as the highest-rated NHL regular-season game in nearly four decades (2.5 HH rtg), and became the second-most watched such game in 39 years (4.4 million avg. viewers). The five previous NHL Winter Classics have produced the five most-watched NHL regular-season games in the past 39 years (average viewers).

 

MOST-WATCHED NHL REGULAR-SEASON GAMES SINCE 1975

4.525 million Jan. 1, 2011 NBC Capitals-Penguins
4.404 million Jan. 1, 2014 NBC Maple Leafs-Red Wings
4.401 million Jan. 1, 2009 NBC Red Wings-Blackhawks
3.751 million Jan. 1, 2008 NBC Penguins-Sabres
3.733 million Jan. 2, 2012 NBC Rangers-Flyers

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY

NBCSN’s exclusive Wednesday Night Rivalry coverage will return for a third season and feature some of the biggest rivalries in the NHL, including Philadelphia-New York Rangers, Chicago-St. Louis, and Boston-Detroit. The network will air exclusive coverage on Wednesday nights for 24 weeks, with games usually starting at 8 p.m. ET. WNR begins Wednesday, October 8 with Opening Night coverage between the Flyers and Bruins.

During its inaugural season, Wednesday Night Rivalry was called “the hottest new brand in sports” by Forbes. This past season, Wednesday Night Rivalry’s 23 exclusive telecasts averaged 559,000 viewers, up 26% compared to the exclusive time period average of the last full regular season in 2011-12 (443,000). Since the debut of Wednesday Night Rivalry last season, NBCSN has recorded nine regular-season games with more than 700,000 viewers vs. four over the previous two seasons.

 

NBCSN 2014-15 NHL Wednesday Night Rivalry schedule (subject to change):

Date Away Home Time (ET)
October 8 Philadelphia Boston 7:30 p.m.
October 15 Boston Detroit 8 p.m.
October 22 Philadelphia Pittsburgh 8 p.m.
October 29 Detroit Washington 7:30 p.m.
November 5 Detroit N.Y. Rangers 8 p.m.
November 12 Boston Toronto 8 p.m.
November 19 Philadelphia N.Y. Rangers 8 p.m.
December 3 St. Louis Chicago 8 p.m.
December 10 Toronto Detroit 8 p.m.
December 17 Boston Minnesota 8 p.m.
January 7 Boston Pittsburgh 8 p.m.
January 14 Philadelphia Washington 8 p.m.
January 21 Chicago Pittsburgh 8 p.m.
January 28 Pittsburgh Washington 8 p.m.
February 4 Boston N.Y. Rangers 8 p.m.
February 11 Detroit Pittsburgh 8 p.m.
February 18 Detroit Chicago 7:30 p.m.
February 25 Pittsburgh Washington 8 p.m.
March 4 N.Y. Rangers Detroit 8 p.m.
March 11 N.Y. Rangers Washington 8 p.m.
March 18 Chicago N.Y. Rangers 8 p.m.
March 25 Chicago Philadelphia 8 p.m.
April 1 Philadelphia Pittsburgh 8 p.m.
April 8 Boston Washington 8 p.m.

 

In addition, NBCSN will present 10 games on Wednesday nights that will immediately follow  Wednesday Night Rivalry matchups. These nightcaps will showcase one or two Western Conference teams. The first of these games will take place on Opening Night, when San Jose visits Los Angeles following Flyers-Bruins Wednesday Night Rivalry coverage. Following are the 10 Wednesday nightcap games:

 

Date Away Home Time (ET)
October 8 San Jose Los Angeles 10 p.m.
November 12 Los Angeles Anaheim 10:30 p.m.
January 7 New York Rangers Anaheim 10:30 p.m.
January 21 Los Angeles San Jose 10:30 p.m.
January 28 Chicago Los Angeles 10:30 p.m.
February 11 Washington San Jose 10:30 p.m.
February 18 Los Angeles Colorado 10 p.m.
March 18 Los Angeles Anaheim 10:30 p.m.
April 1 Colorado San Jose 10:30 p.m.
April 8 Dallas Anaheim 10:30 p.m.

 

 

NHL ALL-STAR WEEKEND – JAN. 24-25 – NATIONWIDE ARENA, COLUMBUS, OHIO

 

NBCSN will present extensive coverage of the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend from Nationwide Arena on Columbus, Ohio, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. All-Star weekend will take place Saturday, January 24 and Sunday, January 25 and will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ and the NHL All-Star Game.

 

NBC SPORTS GROUP’S STATE-OF-THE ART STUDIOS

NHL studio programming throughout much of the 2014-15 season will originate from NBC Sports Group’s state-of-the-art International Broadcast Center, located in Stamford, Conn.

NHL Live, NBCSN’s live pre- and post-game show with highlights and analysis of NHL matchups, will air before and after most games. A 60-minute edition of NHL Live will air prior to most games, while a 30-minute post-game show will air immediately following the game.

On most days, the NHL Live team will consist of Liam McHugh (host), Mike Milbury (analyst), andKeith Jones (analyst). Coverage will also include host Kathryn Tappen, new to NBC Sports Group’s NHL coverage this season, as well as analysts Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter.

 

FLEX SCHEDULING ON NBC

For the eighth consecutive season, the NHL and NBC Sports Group will utilize flex scheduling, which provides the ability to select from up to four games on Sunday afternoons. At least 13 days prior to the scheduled games, the NHL and NBC Sports will announce which game will air.

 

NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA COVERAGE

NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets, will stream all 2014-15 NHL regular season games televised on NBC and NBCSN. All NBCSN games will be live streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.

Games airing on:

  • NBC will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra;
  • NBCSN will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra, and to the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, and telco services, via “TV Everywhere,” which is available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of participating MVPDs.

 

NBC Sports Group 2013-14 NHL regular-season schedule (subject to change):

Date Away Home Network Time (ET)
Wed., Oct. 8 Philadelphia Boston NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 8 San Jose Los Angeles NBCSN 10 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 9 Colorado Minnesota NBCSN 9 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 14 Buffalo Carolina NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 15 Boston Detroit NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 21 Philadelphia Chicago NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 22 Philadelphia Pittsburgh NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 28 Minnesota Boston NBCSN 7 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 29 Detroit Washington NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 4 St. Louis New Jersey NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 5 Detroit N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 11 Buffalo St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 12 Boston Toronto NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 12 Los Angeles Anaheim NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 18 San Jose Buffalo NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 19 Philadelphia N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 8 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 24 Pittsburgh Boston NBCSN 7 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 26 Philadelphia Detroit NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 28 N.Y. Rangers Philadelphia NBC 1 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 2 Tampa Bay Buffalo NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 2 Philadelphia San Jose NBCSN 10 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 3 St. Louis Chicago NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 9 Los Angeles Buffalo NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 10 Toronto Detroit NBCSN 8 p.m.
Mon., Dec. 15 Tampa Bay Pittsburgh NBCSN 7 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 17 Boston Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 23 St. Louis Colorado NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 27 Washington Pittsburgh NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 27 San Jose Los Angeles NBCSN 10 p.m.
Mon., Dec. 29 Detroit Boston NBCSN 7 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 1* Chicago Washington NBC 1 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 4 Dallas Chicago NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 6 San Jose Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 7 Boston Pittsburgh NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 7 N.Y. Rangers Anaheim NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 11 Minnesota Chicago NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 13 Minnesota Pittsburgh NBCSN 7 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 14 Philadelphia Washington NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 18 NY Rangers Pittsburgh NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 18 Buffalo Detroit NBCSN 8 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 19 Colorado St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 20 Pittsburgh Philadelphia NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 21 Chicago Pittsburgh NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 21 Los Angeles San Jose NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 27 Tampa Bay Carolina NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 28 Pittsburgh Washington NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 28 Chicago Los Angeles NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 29 Montreal N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 7 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 29 Anaheim San Jose NBCSN 10 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 1 St. Louis Washington NBCSN 1 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 3 Chicago Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 4 Boston N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 8 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 5 Detroit Colorado NBCSN 9 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 8 Chicago St. Louis NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 8 Montreal Boston NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Mon., Feb. 9 Arizona Chicago NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 11 Detroit Pittsburgh NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 11 Washington San Jose NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 15 Pittsburgh Chicago NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 15 Philadelphia Buffalo NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 17 Buffalo New Jersey NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 18 Detroit Chicago NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 18 Los Angeles Colorado NBCSN 10 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 19 Columbus Pittsburgh NBCSN 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 21 Los Angeles San Jose NBCSN 10 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 22 Washington Philadelphia NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 22 Boston Chicago NBC 3:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 22 Dallas Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 24 Philadelphia Carolina NBCSN 7 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 25 Pittsburgh Washington NBCSN 8 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 26 Minnesota Nashville NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 28 N.Y. Rangers Philadelphia NBC 8 p.m.
Sun., March 1 Anaheim Dallas NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., March 3 Buffalo Tampa Bay NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 4 N.Y. Rangers Detroit NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., March 8 Detroit Boston NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., March 8 N.Y. Rangers Chicago NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 9 Pittsburgh San Jose NBCSN 10 p.m.
Tues., March 10 Los Angeles Colorado NBCSN 9 p.m.
Wed., March 11 N.Y. Rangers Washington NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., March 15 Detroit Pittsburgh NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., March 15 Boston Washington NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 16 Washington Buffalo NBCSN 7 p.m.
Tues., March 17 Buffalo Boston NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 18 Chicago N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., March 18 Los Angeles Anaheim NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Sun., March 22 St. Louis Detroit NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., March 22 Anaheim N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., March 24 Los Angeles N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 7 p.m.
Wed., March 25 Chicago Philadelphia NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., March 29 San Jose Pittsburgh NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 30 Los Angeles Chicago NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Wed., April 1 Philadelphia Pittsburgh NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., April 1 Colorado San Jose NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Thurs., April 2 Boston Detroit NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Sun., April 5 Pittsburgh Philadelphia NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., April 5 St. Louis Chicago NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., April 7 Minnesota Chicago NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Wed., April 8 Boston Washington NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., April 8 Dallas Anaheim NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Thurs., April 9 Chicago St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sat., April 11 Minnesota St. Louis NBC 3 p.m.
Sat., April 11 San Jose Los Angeles NBC 3 p.m.
Sat., April 11 Boston Tampa Bay NBCSN TBD

*Denotes NHL Winter Classic

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Capitals sign first round pick Vrana to three year deal

Posted on 15 July 2014 by WNST Staff

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals have signed forward Jakub Vrana to a three-year, entry-level contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.

Vrana, 18, was drafted by Washington in the first round, 13th overall, in the 2014 NHL Draft. The Prague, Czech Republic, native spent the 2013-14 season with Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and split the season between the senior team and junior team. Vrana registered three points (two goals, one assists) and two penalty minutes in 24 games with the senior team and collected 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) and 26 penalty minutes in 24 games with Linkoping’s junior club. Vrana was ranked fourth overall among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

Vrana has represented the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship twice (2013, 2014) and at the Under-18 World Championships three times (2012, 2013, 2014). He led the Czech Republic in scoring at the 2012 and 2014 Under-18 World Championships and ranked first in goals (8) and third in points (10) among all skaters at 2014 tournament, including the overtime winner in the quarterfinal as the Czech Republic captured a silver medal. At the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, Vrana earned four points (three goals, one assist), including a goal and an assist in the bronze-medal game to lead the Czech Republic to victory. It was the country’s first top-three finish at the tournament, which they co-host, since 2005.

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Capitals sign forwards Kennedy, Newbury

Posted on 04 July 2014 by WNST Staff

CAPITALS SIGN TIM KENNEDY AND KRIS NEWBURY

Posted on July 04, 2014 by Caps PR

 

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals have signed forwards Tim Kennedy and Kris Newbury to one-year, two-way contracts, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.

Kennedy, 28, registered eight points (two goals, six assists) and four penalty minutes in 37 games with the Arizona Coyotes in 2013-14. The Buffalo, N.Y., native has played in 162 NHL games with Arizona, San Jose, Florida and Buffalo, earning 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) and 60 penalty minutes. Kennedy was selected by the Capitals in the sixth round, 181st overall, in the 2005 NHL Draft.

The 5’10”, 176-pound left wing tallied 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) and 14 penalty minutes in 30 games with the Portland Pirates (AHL) last season. He has played in 260 AHL games with the Portland, Hartford/Connecticut, Rochester, San Antonio and Worcester, earning 208 points (60 goals, 148 assists). Kennedy finished in the league’s top 20 in scoring his rookie year (2008-09) with 67 points (18 goals, 49 assists) and was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team.

Newbury, 32, collected one assist in four games with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013-14. The Brampton, Ont., native has played in 76 career NHL games with Philadelphia, the NY Rangers, Detroit and Toronto, registering 10 points (four goals, six assists) and 139 penalty minutes. Newbury was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the fifth round, 139th overall, in the 2002 NHL Draft.

Newbury played in the final 17 regular-season games of the 2013-14 season with the Hershey Bears (AHL), earning 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and 25 penalty minutes. The 5’11”, 205-pound center has played in 662 AHL games with Hershey, Adirondack, Hartford/Connecticut, Grand Rapids, Toronto and St. John’s, recording 488 points (160 goals, 328 assists). Newbury appeared in his 600th AHL game on Oct. 25, 2013, against the Norfolk Admirals and played his 700th professional game on Dec. 21, 2013, against Norfolk.

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Dorsey’s Dugout- USA Helps Soccer and Caps Make Moves

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Dorsey’s Dugout- USA Helps Soccer and Caps Make Moves

Posted on 02 July 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

USA

All of America was on the edge of their seats once the United States and Belgium match went to extra time. Despite the 2-1 loss in the first round of the World Cup sweet sixteen, that same excitement for soccer in this country will only grow.

The United States does not have the same kind of intensity within its fan base as the other countries in the World Cup, but this team might have changed the popularity of the sport going forward. A team that was not given a lick of a chance to advance out of the group of death, team USA silenced the critics and gave the fans across the country something to be proud of.

When team USA went down 2-0 in extra time to Belgium, the life was sucked out of the American fan base and their World Cup hopes had diminished. All the excitement that Klinsmanns squad brought to all of America seemed to be lost. Then Julian Green scored a goal off of a wonderful pass from Michael Bradley.

Even though the one goal was not enough to force a round of penalty kicks, it gave the team hope. Not only did Julian Greens goal give hope at a chance for a comeback, but also the goal symbolized hope for the game of soccer in this country.

Team USA does not have the talent that the other world powers have in the World Cup. Other teams feature their best athletes within the country to represent their nation. Since the United States has other professional leagues like the NFL and NBA, the best athletes in the country do not play for Team USA soccer.

While team USA does not have the same talent as the other world powers, they showed the heart needed to compete on the big stage. They tied one of the best teams in the world that featured soccers second best player and only lost by one to Germany who is amongst the worlds best.

The fact that the United States was able to advance out of the group of death and other soccer powers such as Spain, England, Italy and Portugal could not is astonishing. There are a lot of positives to come away with from the performance of the American squad and it will for sure carry over to the next Cup.

It was Jurgen Klinsmanns first opportunity as head coach for Team USA and he got the job done well. He made good adjustments during games within group play and came away with good results. The former German athlete did a great job in his first appearance as head coach for team USA and the fans will sure be by his side as the next Cup approaches.

T.J. Oshie was the American “hero” during the Olympic games in hockey for his performance in the shootout against Russia. After the stellar performance, Oshie was a household name everywhere in America. The same situation came to be when USA goalkeeper Tim Howard had a record-breaking match against Belgium.

Sure Howard has been the goalie for team USA the past few World Cups, but Clint Dempsey was the biggest name when it came to USA soccer. After the Belgium match, Howard is being called a hero for his incredible individual performance. With Howard now being recognized as a household name similar to Oshie, now fans in America might check out the goaltender play some in the English premiere league.

There are so many different parts of this team that make for a brighter future for soccer in this country. There is a plethora of young talent, new stars that have been born and a solid coach in control of it all. With all that being said, not only does team USA have a bright future, but also the popularity of soccer in the country.

Grading Capitals Free Agency Moves

The free agency period in the NHL kicked into high gear July 1st at noon and the Washington Capitals made several moves. New General manager Brian MacLellan got his first crack at making decisions at the helm and started the first day off with a few signings.

Washington had several needs heading into free agency such as finding a top-4 defenseman, a veteran backup goalie and a second line center. MacLellan began the day by signing veteran backup Justin Peters from the Carolina Hurricanes.

Peters, 27 years old, got to play in twenty-one games last season and finished with a .919 save percentage. This is a good addition to the Caps roster for several reasons.

The message being sent to Braden Holtby with this signing is that he is clearly the number one goalie on the team. Peters is a career backup who is trying to prove he is amongst the top tier backup goalies in the league. This should come to be no threat to Holtby as he will be leading the team onto the ice this year.

The best part about this deal is that it is cap-friendly. Peters signed a 2-year deal for $1.9 million that comes to be about $950,000 a season. Finding a veteran backup for this cost allows for Washington to make other moves during free agency. Grading the Justin Peters signing, a B- is a fair grade.

Brian MacLellan was not done after the Peters signing as he added two pieces to the biggest weakness on the roster. Two former Pittsburgh Penguin defensemen were added to the Capitals top six rotation. One is considered a good signing and the other is a bit of a head scratcher.

Brooks Orpik, 33, signed a 5-year deal with the Capitals worth $27.5 million. This addition to the team came to be a huge surprise  for many reasons. Orpik is 33 years old and is on the down side of his career. What makes this deal not so sexy is the money and longevity of the deal. Paying a player past his prime $5.5 million a year is quite risky. It also does not make sense giving a player who is 33 years of age a five-year deal.

Although there are a few negatives to the signing of Orpik, he does bring some qualities that will help this Capitals team. The former Penguin has been one of the assistant captains for Pittsburgh since 2008. He has been in a leadership role for several years and the Caps could use more leaders especially on the defensive end.

Most of the Capitals blue liners favor playing a style in which they like to carry the puck. They are considered finesse defenders and Orpik is the opposite of that. Brooks Orpik is the physical kind of defenseman that Washington needs. The Brooks Orpik signing gets a C- grade.

Joining fellow Pittsburgh teammate in Washington is new Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen. The former Penguin cashed in on a seven-year deal worth $40.25 million that equates to a $5.75 cap hit per year. Niskanen finished the 2013-14 regular season with 46 total points and a +33 rating. Niskanen is a very similar defender to what the Caps current defensive roster already has.

This was the best addition that new general manager Brian MacLellan made all day during the first bit of free agency. The Caps are getting a defender who is 27 years old and is in the prime of his career. He is a versatile defender who also has a good plus/minus rating. Niskanen was expected to get $6 million or more per season when he hit the market, but Washington managed to get him just under that range.

With the additions of Orpik and Niskanen, the team’s biggest weakness has been repaired. Last season featured a never-ending cycle of defensemen getting their chances to start. The Caps often called up prospects from Hershey to start at the blue line, but those times look to be done.

The defensive pairings look to be Carlson-Alzner, Niskanen-Orpik and Green-Orlov. The pairings could change as Orpik does have experience playing with Carlson during the Olympics. As of now, those pairings have a chance to resemble what it will look like when the team hits the ice this season.

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Capitals select Vrana in first round of NHL Entry Draft

Posted on 28 June 2014 by WNST Staff

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals selected forward Jakub Vrana with the 13th overall selection in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft on Friday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Vrana, 18, was ranked fourth overall among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. The Prague, Czech Republic, native spent the 2013-14 season with Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and split the season between the senior team and junior team. Vrana registered three points (two goals, one assists) and two penalty minutes in 24 games with the senior team and collected 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) and 26 penalty minutes in 24 games with Linkoping’s junior club.

Vrana has represented the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship twice (2013, 2014) and at the Under-18 World Championships three times (2012, 2013, 2014). He led the Czech Republic in scoring at the 2012 and 2014 Under-18 World Championships and ranked first in goals (8) and third in points (10) among all skaters at 2014 tournament, including the overtime winner in the quarterfinal as the Czech Republic captured a silver medal. At the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, Vrana earned four points (three goals, one assist), including a goal and assist in the bronze-medal game to lead the Czech Republic to victory. It was the country’s first top-three finish at the tournament, which they co-host, since 2005.

 

NHL.COM PROSPECT PAGE

Vrana: http://www.nhl.com/ice/draftprospectdetail.htm?cat=2&dpid=72641&sort=finalRank&year=2014

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