One thing that can make life easy on young goaltenders is solid team defense. The Capitals are not a bad defensive team. When you look at the stats this is actually a top ten, even top five defense. Washington was a top five team in scoring chances against, and top ten in high danger attempts against.
But stats are just stats aren’t they? You can use them to a point, but sometimes they can tell some fibs.
When you watch this Capitals team, they don’t usually look like a top defensive team. Again, I don’t think they look awful on defense. But, too many times during the season, when you look at the goaltending, you realize, or think that whoever the goalie was that night they had to do too much work or make too many tough saves. Or on a bad night didn’t make enough of those tough saves leading to a loss.
Too many times last season did we look at Vitek Vanecek and think “Wow he had a great night!”. It’s great to think that about your young goalie, but the team needs to make sure we’re not saying that as often as we do.
On top of that, I think there are question about the defensemen as well. John Carlson is a great defenseman, but when people say that, they’re mostly talking about his point production and his ability to generate offense. On D, he’s very inconsistent. He can make great plays and play good defense, but he can also get caught too many times.
Orlov is the best defensive guy on the team, probably by far. Schultz was OK last season. Jensen was better last season, but again, a lot of his improvements came on offense, he’s still iffy on D. After that there are questions on who is on this team and. van Riemsdyk? Kempny? Fehervary? Alexeyev? There is room for two of those guys, so who makes the team?
Whoever makes it from those players, how much of a difference will they make? When you face the top teams in the eastern conference which pair of players will shutdown the top line of the other team? Who’s trying to shut down Marchand from Boston? What about Kucherov in Tampa? How about Crosby or Malkin in the division?
I don’t see a whole lot of shutdown options for this team. It will really have to be a team effort, and last season, even letting up as little as they did, it still seemed they let up far too much.