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Players to Watch  |  NHL Rule Changes

During the 18 months since the Capitals' last regular season game, the team's roster has been overhauled. Only six players from the team's 4-3 loss at Pittsburgh on April 4, 2004 -- Jeff Halpern, Olie Kolzig, Brendan Witt, Stephen Peat, Matt Pettinger and Brian Willsie -- are in tonight's lineup. Here's a look at some of the more promising new faces:

LW Jeff Friesen

'03-04 Statistics: 17 goals, 20 assists

Scouting Report: Acquired from New Jersey for a conditional draft pick, the speedy Friesen is a five-time 20-goal scorer. Motivation shouldn't be a problem -- he's in the final year of $2.28 million contract.

C Andrew Cassels

'03-04 Statistics: 6 goals, 20 assists

x Scouting Report: Signed as a free agent in August, Cassels is still one of the game's best setup men and is expected to center one of the Capitals' top two forward lines. Missed most of training camp with a broken cheekbone.x

LW Alexander Ovechkin

'03-04 Statistics: None.

x Scouting Report: The 2004 No. 1 overall draft pick is the cornerstone of the Capitals' rebuilding plans. Expected to give Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby a run for his money in the race for the Calder Trophy, given to the league's top rookie.x

D Jamie Heward

'03-04 Statistics: None.

Scouting Report: The journeyman spent the past three seasons playing in Switzerland, but swift skating and slick stickhandling has made him a valuable commodity in the new NHL. Joins the rush often but defensively sound; can quarterback the power play.

RW Petr Sykora

'03-04 Statistics: None.

Scouting Report: Signed to a one-year contract, Sykora has been a dominant force in the Czech Republic Extraleague, last season scoring 25 goals. Expected to play on one of the Capitals' top two lines.

RW Chris Clark

'03-04 Statistics: 10 goals,

106 penalty minutes.

Scouting Report: A relentless forechecker, appears to be in constant motion, Clark's energy level in the first period is the same as the third. Brings leadership to the dressing room and solid defensive skills to the Capitals' third line. Acquired from Calgary for a draft pick in August.

1. Shootouts to decide ties: Games that remain tied after 60 minutes of regulation will proceed to a five-minute, four-on- four overtime. If the game is still tied, the teams will alternate penalty shots, three per side.

2. Center redline will be ignored: The line will remain on the ice, but passes across two lines will be permitted in an effort to promote more breakaway scoring chances.

3. Tag-up offside: Players who enter the offensive zone before the puck can return to the blueline (tag up) and rejoin the attack. It will reduce stoppages and increase flow.

4. Restrictions on goaltender movement: Goalies can no longer skate into the corner and stop end-around passes. They will be restricted to playing the puck only in front of the goal line (which has been moved back two feet) and inside a trapezoid behind the goal.

5. Smaller goaltender equipment: Goalies' leg pads have been reduced from 12 inches in width to 11. They also must wear smaller gloves, blockers, chest protectors and pants in an effort to give skaters more net at which to shoot.


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