Photo: NBC Sports Washington
It is an exciting time for the Washington Capitals as they prepare for their First Round series against the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. For center Nic Dowd and defenseman Nick Jensen, it is even more exciting and thrilling since this is each their first time playing a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The pair of best friends in college had the goal that locked the Capitals’ ticket into the postseason for the fifth consecutive season March 28 at PNC Arena when they defeated the Hurricanes 3-2 in the final game of the regular season between the two teams. This has also been Dowd’s and Jensen’s first time playing with the Capitals, and they have already been a strength both offensively and defensively. Let’s take a look back on career numbers with their former teams and with the Capitals:
In the 2009 NHL Draft, Dowd was chosen by the Los Angeles Kings in the seventh round (198th overall). Before he was signed by the Kings on April 1, 2014, he had 16 goals and 23 assists in the one year he played for Indiana in the United States Hockey League. Dowd recorded 121 points (52 goals) in 155 games with St. Cloud State University over his four-year collegiate career. He was a Hobey Baker finalist in 2014 as a top player for the NCAA, when he posted 22 goals, 40 points, and a +17 rating in 38 games.
The Kings then signed him on a one-year, entry-level contract. Although Dowd spent a majority of the time in the American Hockey League, he did pick up 48 points with the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate, and won a Calder Cup with the Manchester Monarchs. Los Angeles recalled Dowd, who played his first NHL game on March 22, 2016. Unfortunately, he was sent back to Ontario after getting held off of the scoresheet in five straight outings.
Dowd played 70 games with Los Angeles the following season and recorded six goals and 22 points. In the 2017-18 season, he only played 16 games and had one assist. Dowd was then traded to the Vancouver Canucks on December 8, 2017. He had three goals during his 40-game tenure in Vancouver.
On July 1, 2018, Washington signed Dowd to a one-year contract at a league minimum $650,000 cap hit as an unrestricted free agent after fourth-line center Jay Beagle signed a four-year contract with the Canucks. When he was with the Capitals, Beagle was in the top for face-off percentages especially as a fourth line center. Dowd had to fill that important role and certainly delivered. In the 64 games played as a Capital, he has recorded eight goals (including three game-winning goals) and 14 assists for a total of 22 points this season. Dowd recorded a +10 rating and a 51.9% faceoff win percentage on a team that was dead-last in faceoffs. He was the best at winning percentage on draws on the team.
After spending three and a half seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, Jensen was acquired by the Capitals in exchange for defenseman Madison Bowey on February 22, 2019. In addition to receiving Jensen, Washington also got a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a fifth-round pick in 2020 from the Red Wings. The Capitals did not waste any time in signing the Minnesota native to a four-year contract worth $10 million ($2.5 million AAV) a few hours after the deal was announced.
Jensen was selected in the fifth round (149th overall) by the Red Wings in the 2009 NHL Draft. He also played for St. Cloud State University and won the NCAA West First All-American Team along with being named WCHA’s Defensive Player of the Year in his junior year. Additionally, Jensen had 31 points (four goals) and a +19 rating in his final season with St. Cloud, when he appeared in 41 games.
Jensen played with Detroit’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, and collected 10 goals and 61 points. The Red Wings called him up on December 19, 2016, and the defenseman recorded an assist during his first game. Jensen played 49 games in his rookie year with the Red Wings. He ended up with 13 points, including four goals, by the end of the 2016-17 season. The next year Jensen did not score at all but did record 15 assists in the 81 games played.
Before being traded to Washington, Jensen tallied two goals, 13 assists, and a +1 rating in 60 games with the Red Wings this season. He recorded only five assists as a Capital through the 20 games that he has played in since the trade. Jensen’s latest assist was March 30 in the Capitals’ 6-3 victory over the Presidents Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning. With a +3 rating, Jensen has played an average of 17:00 per game with defenseman Michal Kempny out since March 20 after undergoing knee surgery and added depth to Washington’s defense as he has 26 blocked shots and 21 hits as a Capital.
By Della Young