Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Last night the Washington Capitals played their first pre-season game against the New Jersey Devils. It ended up 4-1 for the bad guys, but it’s worth noticing that the Devils were playing their four best forwards (Johansson, Palmieri, Hall, Hischier) and their two best defensemen (Butcher, Severson).
Meanwhile the Caps were auditioning roster positions for the left-handed defenseman spot (along side John Carlson) and a pair of wings for the 4th line. Let’s see how it went.
Here’s a table from Hockeystats.ca with everyone’s 5v5 CF%, so we’ll be able to couple the “eye-test” (that might’ve been tired by the countless penalties) with the advanced stats:
Left handed spot on the second pair.
Candidates: Christian Djoos, Aaron Ness, Lucas Johansen.
I wasn’t blown away by Djoos. However, his passes were good and he moved well. Sometimes he was pushed away too easily and he got in trouble on the second Devils goal, but it wasn’t his fault as Carlson missed his man and Burakvosky wasn’t able to hang on to the puck before that. I actually liked how he dealt with a two on one: he was aggressive with his stick and was very close to taking the puck away from Blandisi. Coupling what we’ve seen with a team-leading 66.67 CF% leaves me very satisfied about his game and I can say the chances of him being alongside Carlson on Opening Night have increased.
That brings me to Johansen. I wasn’t impressed in any positive or blatantly negative way, which was supported by a 50 CF%. There’s nothing bad in that. He’s 20 and probably needs some marinating in the AHL.
Lastly, Ness. He looked active and fast, but his stats were abysmal. (26.6 CF%), especially if we’re talking about a preseason game against the second pair of one of the worst teams in the league. There’s a reason he has 5 NHL games at 27 years old. His speed might prompt him to a 7D spot over Chroney (who didn’t look particularly good either), but I don’t see him being anything more than that, especially not a Top 4 Defenseman.
Candidates: Nathan Walker, Alex Chiasson, Chandler Stephenson
Last night was Nathan Walker‘s night. His speed and hustle on the PK and at even strength was a sight to behold. Unless he drastically falls down in the next exibition games, the 4LW spot is his. His work showed in the stats, too, with a 57.89 CF%.
Stephenson looked good on the wing and probably increased his chances to make the team on the right side of the 4th line. His 57.89 CF% looks especially impressive because he was the only forward on the positive side of the spectrum that was not playing with Corsi-God Lars Eller.
Chiasson was bad, but I didn’t expect much from him.
By Liviu Damaschin