It’s time for a new Capitals mailbag! Check out Part 1 below.
Have a Caps question you want answered in the next mailbag? You can submit your questions here at the Capitals Mailbag submissions page on NBCSportsWashington.com.
Please note, some questions have been edited for clarity.
Cole Praver writes: If the playoffs started today the Caps would play Carolina in the first round. Would that be sweet revenge? What would the Caps need to do to beat that team?
It is really hard to tell how teams are going to look when they get back from this pause. It’s a complete reset of the season that every team will have to handle in some way. It also gives more time for injured players to heal. Would Carolina have both goalies back and full strength? Sami Vatanen suffered an injury setback soon after the Hurricanes traded for him, would he be able to contribute? Would Dougie Hamilton possibly be able to return if the playoffs are pushed back? These are questions that we really won’t know until they get back onto the ice.
Carolina’s forecheck gave Washington fits last season. They have to be able to play better against that which means getting the puck out of the defensive zone quickly, it means short and simple passes, no stretch passes through the neutral zone that can easily be intercepted by cutting off the passing lanes and prolonged offensive shifts. Carolina cannot get its forecheck set up if every time it gets the puck the Hurricanes have to dump it for the line change. The Caps also have to put pressure on the Hurricanes’ netminders. Petr Mrazek and James Reimer are this team’s biggest weakness and can be beaten, even with Carolina’s strong defense.
Pete DeiTos writes: Which Caps players will benefit the most from the season pause and the rest/restart it provides?
Obviously trying just to start playing again is going to present challenges regardless of the player. Having said that, I think this could be beneficial for a lot of the team’s veterans. The 34-year-old Alex Ovechkin was two goals away from 50. What is he going to look like fully rested? Saying it will be good for all the guys over 30 is fairly obvious, though I am not sure what Braden Holtby will look like. He is a guy who likes to get into a rhythm and that obviously is impossible at this point. For anyone harboring any sort of nagging injury, this should also be beneficial.
But if there is one guy who I think this will benefit more than anyone, it’s John Carlson. He is 30 years old, ranks 10th in the NHL in ice time per game, and, let’s face it, his game had taken a massive step back heading into the pause. Time to rest and reset should benefit him about as much as anyone in the league.
Neha A. writes: When do player contracts expire? What would happen if a delayed season went past that date? Could there be free agency before the playoffs!?
The NHL league year begins on July 1 every year. Free agency starts that day because that is when a player’s contract has officially expired. We do not know how far back the season will be pushed back, but if it does go into the summer, this will be one of the many challenges the league will face. How do you handle player contracts? I cannot imagine that free agency would happen before or during the postseason regardless of the circumstances. There seemingly would be just too much conflict of interest there.
Judy H. writes: Watching the encores of the 2018 Cup run has me chanting DSP (Devante Smith-Pelly) in my living room again…where is he at now?
Smith-Pelly actually played in China this season for the Kunlun Red Star in the KHL. He scored eight goals and three assists in 36 games. Their last game of the regular season was on Feb. 24. I would love to hear Smith-Pelly’s perspective on what it was like to be in China when things started to get bad with the coronavirus. I have reached out about possibly talking to him, but so far have not been able to get him.
Tim T. writes: Which newborn has a better shot at making it to the Show? Nick Jensen’s or TJ Oshie’s?
My last name is Regan so of course I am going to go with Lorenzo Luck Jensen who was born on the best darn day of the year, St. Patrick’s Day.
Thanks for all your questions! Part 2 of the mailbag will be coming on Thursday. If you have a question you want to be answered in the next mailbag, you can submit it here at the Capitals Mailbag submissions page on NBCSportsWashington.com.
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