Sports Fix, The Features

Capitals revamped defense: Stanley Cup worthy?

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‘IMG_6246.jpg’
courtesy of ‘bridgetds’

Nine straight games.

Pretty good for a team that folk said was in complete disarray and out of the Stanley Cup picture three months ago. The Caps current streak now exceeds its lowest point of the season, the eight-game losing streak in December that led up to the Winter Classic. The highest high is now greater than the lowest low.

And Washington is looking to get higher.

The questions have been about the offense. Why haven’t they been scoring? What is wrong with Ovie? Traditionally though, with this group and this coach, scoring has not been a problem and the Caps are showing signs of getting out of the doldrums that plagued them throughout the middle of the season in the scoring department. The defense this year has been surprisingly competent in front of young, solid goaltending. Through the nine-game win streak, Washington has given up 13 goals for an impressive 1.44 goals against per game.

The question becomes – can these new defensive dynamics lead the Caps to the Promised Land?

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capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Re-Sign Schultz, Gordon

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’090127 Jeff Schultz’
courtesy of ‘Dan4th’

The Caps announced today they’ve signed defenseman Jeff Schultz to a four-year deal worth $11 million. Keeping Schultz with the club was important for the team’s blue line; Schultz had recently filed for arbitration along with Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr.

Schultz skated in 73 games last season and led the NHL with an eye-popping +50 rating, a team record for a single season and the first d-man in the NHL to lead in plus/minus since 2005-6. He also racked up a career-high 20 assists on 23 points and averaged just under 20 minutes of ice time a game. “I’m not going to be one of those guys who rushes the puck from end-to-end,” Schultz admitted to Caps writer Mike Vogel. “It’s my job to get it up to the forwards as quick as possible and get it out of our zone with as much ease as possible. If I can make a simple play instead of forcing it, it helps myself and it helps the team.”

The signing is the third by the Caps since July 1, the start of the NHL’s Free Agent signing period. The team signed veteran AHL goalie Dany Sabourin on Saturday and yesterday closed a one-year deal with forward Boyd Gordon. Gordon, the Caps 2002 Entry Draft first-round choice, has played 303 games for the team and recorded 24 goals and 76 points during his Caps career. Last year, Gordon spent a good portion of the season on the injury list, playing in only 36 games and registering 4 goals and 10 points.