How Will the Washington Capitals Defensemen and Goaltenders Perform in 2014-2015?
We are in the midst of training camp for the Washington Capitals. The preseason has already begun and the Capitals already look like they have shown signs of improvement.
With a revamped defensive core and stability in between the pipes, how will the Capitals defensemen and goaltenders perform this season? Will there be a lot of improvement under new head coach Barry Trotz? The Capitals should keep more pucks out of their net this year. Will the defensive core put up more goals than last season?
In Part 1, I projected how the Capitals forwards might perform in 2014-2015. Now I will be making projections for the defensemen and goaltenders.
I assembled a list of all the Capitals defensemen and goaltenders who will play this upcoming season. I am going to predict the totals of the following categories for each defensemen: goals, assists, points, penalty minutes. For the goaltenders, I will predict wins, goals against average, save percentage, and shutouts.
As a reminder, I do not use the plus/minus statistic for projections because I believe it can be a flawed statistic and may not reflect the player’s actual performance.
Mike Green: 10 G, 30 A, 40 P, 58 PIM
John Carlson: 8 G, 29 A, 37 P, 20 PIM
Matt Niskanen: 5 G, 35 A, 40 P, 36 PIM
Brooks Orpik: 2 G, 10 A, 12 P, 55 PIM
Karl Alzner: 2 G, 14 A, 16 P, 20 PIM
Dmitry Orlov: 5 G, 10 A, 15 P, 20 PIM
John Erskine: 1 G, 2 A, 3 P, 50 PIM
Jack Hillen: 1 G, 4 A, 5 P, 6 PIM
Projected Total Goals (Defensemen): 34
Projected Total Goals (All Capitals Skaters): 264
Braden Holtby: 55 GP: 38 W, 2.54 GAA%, .922 SV%, 5 SO
Justin Peters: 20 GP: 7 W, 2.60 GAA%, .915 SV%, 2 SO
Philipp Grubauer: 7 GP: 2 W, 2.75 GAA%, .920 SV%, 0 SO
-With the arrival of Matt Niskanen, the offense should immediately be helped out. I expect Niskanen to get some points on the powerplay and at even strength. He will probably take Carlson’s position on one of the Capitals powerplay units to take some of the minute load from him. I do not think he will match his point totals from last season with the Penguins, but I do believe he will come pretty close.
-Mike Green is playing for a new contract and the big bucks. He will need to return back to the Mike Green of old in order to get a large contract next summer. Can he do it? Mike Green seems very motivated about the upcoming season and he will have upgraded defense partners to work with. I expect Green to rebound (barring he stays healthy), but I do not expect him to put up the numbers he put up several years ago. Green’s production should be very similar to Matt Niskanen’s production.
-Brooks Orpik should take a bulk of the heavy lifting from John Carlson and Karl Alzner. Orpik will take some hard minutes and he will be used to shut down the opposition. He will probably receive a lot of penalty killing time from assistant coach Todd Reirden.
-Matt Niskanen will chew up some powerplay and even strength time. It is possible that Niskanen or Mike Green could be placed on the bottom defense pairing for the Capitals. This could mean mismatches against the opposition for the Capitals. If Niskanen or Green is out there to create offense against an opposing team’s depth players, this is good news for the Washington Capitals.
-Dmitry Orlov, John Erskine, and Jack Hillen will all rotate for the #6 spot throughout the season. Right now, Orlov is the favorite to hold the #6 spot because of his good skating ability and big shot. Orlov needs to show a little bit more consistency in order to keep his spot full time. Erskine and Hillen will see more icetime if injuries start to pile up with the defensive core.
-Braden Holtby is the #1 goaltender in Washington. With an improved defensive core in front of him, he should have more confidence through the season and his numbers should improve. I expect Holtby to get around 60-65 games this season, but he does tend to go through dry spells and injuries along the way.
-Justin Peters should see 15-20 games this upcoming season. Peters knows he is the “backup,” but he should also push Holtby along. There should be no goaltending controversy this year, and Peters has proven he is a consistent #2 goaltender in the NHL.
-Philipp Grubauer should see some a little bit of time in Washington. He will be the Capitals top goaltender recall from Hershey. I do expect Grubauer to get somewhere between 5-10 games because injuries do happen unfortunately. Grubauer should carry the load in Hershey and he will get a chance to grow and develop his game there.
Thanks for tuning in!
I am from Virginia. I am covering the Washington Capitals for The Hockey Writers. I love to write and I am a huge sports fanatic – especially hockey. Follow me on Twitter: @Canucksfin56