Washington Capitals: 3 Players To Watch Vs. Devils


Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals will need production from three key players tonight when they face the New Jersey Devils. Who are they and why are they key?

The Washington Capitals open their regular season tonight when they square off against the New Jersey Devils. The Capitals will already have an advantage because the Devils are playing the second part of a weekend back-to-back slate of games. They lost last night to the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. 

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We don’t know the official lineup for the Devils tonight because of all the new names in the lineup. This is the likely Washington Capitals lineup for their home opener.

Alex OvechkinEvgeny KuznetsovT.J. Oshie
Marcus JohanssonAndre BurakovskyJustin Williams
Jason ChimeraJay BeagleTom Wilson
Brooks LaichMichael LattaSean Collins

Brooks OrpikJohn Carlson
Karl AlznerMatt Niskanen
Nate SchmidtDmitry Orlov

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer will be backing up Holtby in goal this evening. Taylor Chorney and Stanislav Galiev will both be healthy scratches. Nicklas Backstrom will not be playing because he isn’t 100% healthy from his off-season hip surgery yet.

MORE FROM STARS AND STICKS: Three Keys To Victory Vs. Devils

The Washington Capitals shouldn’t take the Devils lightly. They’ll have fresh legs in at a variety of positions. The Capitals will need production from all across their lineup, but there are three players who will be especially important to what the Capitals want to do. These three players are worth keeping an eye on for a variety of reasons.

T.J. Oshie

The Washington Capitals traded for Oshie back on July 2nd. Since they traded for him, there has been a lot of hype about the 2014 Winter Olympics shootout hero and what he’ll bring to the Capitals. Oshie lived up to that hype in the preseason.

He dazzled fans with his puck handling. He made jaws drop with his shootout moves. He brings an element of skill to the first line that the Caps have lacked while trying to find a perfect right wing to play opposite Alex Ovechkin.

Oshie makes his regular season Caps debut this evening. All eyes will be on him. That’s a situation that he’s familiar with. He succeeded when a country’s hopes relied on him during the Winter Olympics in 2014. Expect him to make an impact tonight. It might or might not show on the score sheet. But one way or another, Oshie’s presence will be felt this evening.

Tom Wilson

Much has been written about Wilson and what he brings to the Capitals. He’s their enforcer. He brings a physical presence to the Capitals that Barry Trotz knows how to utilize. Trotz also realizes that the Washington Capitals right wing has the potential to be so much more than just an enforcer.

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Trotz is showing his faith in Wilson by making him the opening night third line right wing. His objective tonight will be to stay out of the penalty box and get on the score sheet. He isn’t paired with the most ideal line mates. Wilson has to find a way to make it work.

In the preseason, we saw a different Wilson. We saw Tom Wilson appear dedicated to being a productive player for the Washington Capitals. It’s extremely important that he carries that over to the regular season with a strong performance.

Braden Holtby

The Caps had been searching for a long time for their next franchise goalie. Over the past three seasons, Braden Holtby has proved to everyone that he is a franchise goaltender. The Washington Capitals netminder has set the bar high for himself with a five year extension that places him among the highest paid goalies in the NHL.

Holtby is being paid like a franchise goalie. He’s determined to prove himself. He realizes that he’s going to have to justify his contract on a nightly basis.

"“Last year it was trying to prove yourself for a contract. This year it’s trying to prove the contract you got. Every situation is different.” – CSN Washington"

Holtby has been prone to slow starts in the past. With his new contract, he’s not going to have the luxury of having the benefit of the doubt. A strong performance in goal tonight will help the Capitals start off their season with a victory.

Next: Five Bold Predictions For The Caps In 2015

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