George McPhee and Adam Oates out; the 2014 Caps welcome Brian McLellan and Barry Trotz along with a new focus on defence
The Capitals win percentage dropped below .500 for the first time in seven years last season but the team has a new look that could help spark Washington back into contention.
Washington Capitals 2014 Preview
Projected Season Win Total: 39.5 (Pinnacle Sports)
The Caps will keep their core group together up front with only Mikhail Grabovski leaving. Evgeny Kuznetsov will make his first full season in the NHL and will be an X-factor, as with a healthy Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer the second line could become a big factor. The first line of Backstrom, Johansson and Ovechkin will not struggle to score but will need to be more responsible defensively with Trotz behind the bench. Solid third and fourth lines complete the group.
Washington spent their money on the back end in the off season signing Penguins Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Orpik will bring some much needed grit to the D and between Niskanen, Carlson and Mike Green, last year’s top ranked power play may only get better. Brayden Holtby will be locked down as the No. 1 in net with Justin Peters backing up. Holtby has kept his numbers consistent in Washington and should benefit from an improved defense.
Pick Sixty Betting Tip: Man Advantage
Washington’s power play ranked first (T-Penguins) in the league last season at 23.4-percent and we’ve circled a handful of games where this explosive unit can take advantage of notoriously high offenders. When facing teams who averaged more than 13 penalty minutes per game the previous season, the Capitals recorded 3.7 GPG (click link for SDQL code at SportsDatabase.com). This is a new look for Ovi and coach Trotz has never had the opportunity to design a system around so much offensive talent. Look for opportunities to back the Caps’ Team Total “Over” against opponents who spend a lot of time in the box.