Capitals preview 2013: Defense and goalies

October 1, 2013

Breaking down the Capitals’ defensemen and goalies heading into the 2013-14 campaign. (Click here for the forwards.) All stats are from last season.

 

FIRST PAIRING

Karl Alzner

AGE: 25 | HT: 6-2 | WT: 217 | YEARS: 5 | G: 1 | A: 4 | P: 5 | +/-: -6

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The steadiest member of the blue line inked a four-year, $11.2 million contract this summer that secured his place in the Capitals’ framework. Another year of facing heavy, tough minutes awaits.

 

Mike Green

AGE: 27 | HT: 6-1 | WT: 207 | YEARS: 8 | G: 12 | A: 14 | P: 26 | +/-: -3

(Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Finished with the most goals (12) of any defenseman in the NHL and put the injury bug behind him last season. Green’s ability to continue working into a well-rounded blue-liner is critical to the Capitals’ success.

 

SECOND PAIRING

John Erskine

AGE: 33 | HT: 6-4 | WT: 220 | YEARS: 11 | G: 3 | A: 3 | P: 6 | +/-: 10

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

With the trust of the coaching staff, the rugged veteran saw his ice time nearly double and his role expand significantly last season. Can he handle a full season skating in the top four?

 

John Carlson

AGE: 23 | HT: 6-3 | WT: 212 | YEARS: 4 | G: 6 | A: 16 | P: 22 | +/-: 11

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Saw the toughest matchups of any defenseman last season and likely will again. Consistency will be his biggest hurdle as the Capitals increasingly lean on him to handle any and all situations.

 

THIRD PAIRING

Jack Hillen

AGE: 27 | HT: 5-10 | WT: 190 | YEARS: 6 | G: 3 | A: 6 | P: 9 | +/-: 9

(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

His skating ability fits well within Oates’s quick-paced, defensive approach, but after a shoulder injury limited him to just 23 games last season, he’s ready for more responsibility.

 

Steve Oleksy

AGE: 27 | HT: 6-0 | WT: 212 | YEARS: 1 | G: 1 | A: 8 | P: 9 | +/-: 9

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Last season’s feel-good story, the longtime minor league journeyman found a fit with the Capitals. He must show he can weather a full-season workload and improve his skating to ensure a nightly place in the lineup.

 

OTHERS

Connor Carrick

AGE: 19 | HT: 5-11 | WT: 185 | YEARS: Rookie | G: N/A | A: N/A | P: N/A | +/-: N/A

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Smooth-skating puck mover was the surprise of training camp and went from expecting to head back to the OHL this season to starting the year in the NHL. His poise and confidence with the puck impressed his coaches.

 

GOALIES

Braden Holtby

AGE: 24 | HT: 6-2 | WT: 203 | YEARS: 3 | RECORD: 23-12-1 | GAA: 2.58 | SV: .920 |

(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

Emerged as the No. 1 in net last season, and his puck-handling is an important part of the team’s system. But with only 78 games (regular season and playoffs) in the NHL, he needs to continue gaining experience.

 

Michal Neuvirth

AGE: 25 | HT: 6-1 | WT: 209 | YEARS: 5 | RECORD: 4-5-2 | GAA: 2.74 | SV: .910 |

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Limited to 13 games last season, the Czech netminder wants to prove he’s more than a backup in the NHL. To accomplish that, though, he’ll need to bide his time and stay healthy so that he’s ready whenever he’s called upon.

 

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