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Caps Making Some Moves

The Capitals have been rather busy in the last 48, so here is a quick rundown of what you might have missed:

On Monday, D.J. King asked the Capitals to place him on waivers.  He has clearly become unhappy with his role in the organization and simply wishes to have the opportunity to play elsewhere.  I can’t blame King for this, and I’m actually surprised he was still a member of the team on opening night.  Since joining the Capitals via a trade for Stefan Della Rovere, he has been a kind of afterthought in the organization.  Last season, King featured in only 16 games.  In those 16 games, he picked up 2 assists and 30 penalty minutes while playing less than 6 minutes a game.  In his lone game this season, he recorded one shot and played less than 7 minutes.

When the organization acquired him, they saw him as the tough guy that they lacked.  Unfortunately for King, Matt Hendricks’ stellar training camp and preseason made a tough guy—with absolutely no scoring touch—unnecessary.  Today, King cleared waivers but is still practicing with the team.  My guess is that the team is simply giving him a place to skate while they figure out what to do with him.

Cody Eakin was recalled from Hershey this morning and will start his first NHL game tonight against Anaheim.  Eakin has had a rather good start to the AHL season, recording 3 goals and 5 assists.  To make way for Eakin’s inclusion on the roster, Jeff Halpern will be scratched tonight.  With Hershey playing only 1 game this week, it made sense for Boudreau to get a better look at Eakin, as well as give the aging Halpern a night off.  Although he said this wasn’t meant as a message to Halpern, I like to believe this is in response to that horrendous tripping call Halpern took in Vancouver.  Eakin should play on the 4th line alongside Perreault and Knuble, who has seen time with the 4th line in practice this week.  This demotion for Knuble shouldn’t be taken as a punishment.  The Caps like to roll 4 lines regularly, and Knuble is seeing time down there so that Bruce can tinker with the chemistry on the top lines.  Expect to see Chimera play 2nd line and Hendricks plays 3rd.

John Erskine will make his season debut tonight against Anaheim, after missing the first 9 games while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.  This comes at a great time, as Erskine’s inclusion immediately increases the grit level of the defense.  He also should have a big impact on a penalty killing squad that is on the down slope.  The real tricky part will come when Mike Green’s ankle is healthy again, giving the Capitals 7 capable blueliners. 

With John Erskine back, obviously somebody is sitting.  The obvious choice was made to send Sean Collins back to Hershey this morning.  Collins played well against Edmonton but was near-awful against Vancouver.  With Orlov continuing to progress, this might be the last time we see Collins. 

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Erskine adds grit.  But he won’t be able to fight for a while after coming off the shoulder injury.  King was fine when he played.  So I don’t understand why he wasn’t utilized more than he was.  Don’t get me wrong.  He shouldn’t get a jersey every game.  But against some of the tougher teams, he should have been in there.  I knew the writing was on the wall when he didn’t play in Philly.  Then Beagle steps into help fill some of the toughness role and eats his teeth after stepping up a weight class.  If King is in there, who knows if that happens to Beagle.  Henricks is willing.  But he isn’t that great of a fighter, even as a middleweight.  We’ll see what happens in the toughness department.  We’re tougher than last year with the additions of Ward and Brouwer.  But the Caps biggest problem, aside from having a reputable locker room leader, has been the lack of toughness.  Teams target Mike Green.  And the guy is beat down come the end of the year.

Posted by Siggy25 on 11/01/11 at 03:56 PM ET

Matthew Tate's avatar

I think the issue with King is one that is common now in the NHL.  It is no longer enough that a player just fight.  Why play King when guys like Chimera, Erskine, and Hendricks will fight, if needed, and can pitch in goals.  King hasn’t scored a goal since the 07-08 season.  For many coaches, including Bruce, it makes little sense to put a guy like King on the ice for 6-7 minutes/game just in case a fight it needed.  He would much rather put Hendricks there.  Hendricks can kill penalties, score the occasional goal, muck it up, and, if it is needed, drop the mitts. 

I think if you look at the 7 blueliners, there is a perceived lack of toughness.  Hamrlik can be tough, but I think he might be more worried about staying healthy.  Erskine is, by far, the toughest D-man they have.  I think Green is approaching this year a bit differently, though.  In years past, he has been willing to take a hit to make a pass.  This year, he says he is trying to make the pass and avoid the contact, a la Lidstrom.

Posted by Matthew Tate on 11/01/11 at 04:11 PM ET

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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate.  This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals.  The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.

In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at  York College of Pennsylvania.  I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland. 

You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at overtheboard@gmail.com.