Photo: NHL via Getty Images
The Washington Capitals recently received some devastating news that defenseman Michal Kempny will be out for some time with a leg injury. Kempny, 28, is a part of the Capitals top-four defensive group. Through 71 games this season, Kempny has recorded 6 goals and 25 points.
HOW DOES THE LOSS OF KEMPNY IMPACT THE CAPITALS?
Kempny has been a steady presence for the Capitals blueline since his arrival to the club in February 2018. Throughout the regular season, Kempny averages 19:11 of icetime. His average icetime ranks fourth among Capitals blueliners, behind John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, and Dmitry Orlov.
On special teams, Kempny would see the ice occasionally on the Capitals penalty killing unit. Among the defensemen, Kempny ranked fourth in icetime on the penalty kill.
OTHER DEFENSEMEN NEED TO STEP UP AND FILL THE VOID
With Kempny’s ability to log a lot of minutes for the Capitals, the rest of the Capitals blueliners need to step up.
Nick Jensen will likely see his minutes get a boost with Kempny’s injury. Jensen’s arrival is already paying off for the Capitals, and he is going to be in the mix for a little while. Like Kempny, Jensen gives the Capitals a steady presence on the blueline. His game is not flashy, but he gets the job done and can play close to 20 minutes per game.
In addition to Jensen, the Capitals have some young up-and-comers that can log some extra minutes. Christian Djoos, 24, is a young blueliner that has a promising future. Djoos was calm and collected on the big stage as he played on a third-pairing with Brooks Orpik in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Djoos is a smooth-skating defenseman that has experience and can push the pace with the puck.
Capitals fans have seen a little bit of Jonas Siegenthaler this season. Siegenthaler played in 25 games for the Capitals this season, and performed very well. The 21-year old Swiss will likely return to the Capitals for postseason play once the regular season concludes.
Brooks Orpik is another option for the Capitals coaching staff to have. The 38-year old blueliner is a two-time Stanley Cup winner that gives the Capitals locker room a reliable veteran presence. Orpik brings leadership and strong play for the Capitals on their penalty killing unit.
KEMPNY WILL BE MISSED, BUT THE CAPITALS HAVE DEPTH
Even with Kempny missing some time, the Capitals are in good shape defensively. The Capitals have a deep blueline that is experienced.
The coaching staff must find ways for the Capitals depth defensemen to replace Kempny while he is out of the lineup. They must make tough lineup decisions involving who gets a bump in icetime. The coaching staff must also recognize which players are most comfortable in various situations on the ice, especially when it involves special teams and five-on-five play.
By: George Foussekis