Some Experience Required, pg. 2
The young Capitals pick up some valuable NHL postseason experience
Right wing Matt Cooke – Cooke has eight goals and a dozen points in 39 career NHL playoff games. He also appeared in 24 playoff contests during his days in the OHL and has nine games worth of World Championship experience and six games of World Junior Championship experience.
Center Viktor Kozlov – Kozlov has played in 21 Stanley Cup playoff games with four different teams and is still seeking his first playoff goal. He has played in 13 AHL playoff games, 29 World Championship games, seven World Junior Championship contests, 27 playoff games in the Russian Super League and four games in the World Cup of Hockey.
Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn – Morrisonn has played in 11 AHL playoff games and 12 WHL postseason contests.
Left Wing Alexander Semin – Played in 30 playoff games in the Russian Super League, and totaled seven goals and 11 points in just seven AHL playoff games in 2004. Semin has also played in 19 World Championship games and six World Junior Championship tilts. He was second among Caps in playoff scoring this spring, and – along with Ovechkin and Mike Green – was one of three Capitals to record at least a point per game.
Goaltender Olie Kolzig – Kolzig is 20-24 with a 2.14 GAA and a .930 save pct. in 45 career Stanley Cup playoff contests. He backstopped the Caps to the Stanley Cup finals in 1998, pitching four of his six career playoff shutouts along the way. Kolzig went 33-18 in 51 AHL playoff games, and helped lead Portland to a Calder Cup title in 1994. He also played in nine WHL postseason games, three ECHL playoff contests and three playoff games in the German League. Kolzig played in five World Cup and five Olympic games for Team Germany.
Goaltender Cristobal Huet – Played in six NHL playoff contests with Montreal in 2006, going 2-4 with a 2.33 GAA and .929 save pct. Huet has one AHL playoff game, 42 Swiss League and 14 German League playoff games to his credit. In 1999, he led the Swiss League with a 1.72 playoff GAA. This spring, Huet was 3-4 with a 2.93 goals against average and a .909 save pct.
Center David Steckel – One of a handful of Caps who was on both of Hershey’s consecutive runs to the Calder Cup finals in 2006 and 2007. Steckel totaled 16 goals and 30 points in 40 games during those two springs, and he also played in six AHL playoff games with Manchester in 2005. He scored his first NHL playoff goal in his first NHL playoff game this spring.
Left Wing Tomas Fleischmann – Fleischmann was also a part of Hershey’s last two playoff runs, piling up 16 goals and 53 points in 39 games along the way. He led the AHL in playoff assists in both seasons and was among the league’s top three scorers in both playoffs. Fleischmann also averaged a point per game in 22 WHL playoff games and seven playoff contests back home in his native Czech Republic.
Defenseman Steve Eminger – Eminger has seven games worth of AHL playoff experience, and he was a key player on the 2003 Memorial Cup champion Kitchener Rangers. Eminger played in 30 OHL playoff contests, 21 of which were during that Memorial Cup run. He also has six games worth of World Junior Championship experience.
Defenseman Mike Green – Green played in all 40 Bears games during the last two playoff runs. He totaled 10 goals and 34 points in those two playoffs combined, which accounted for all of his professional playoff experience before this season. Prior to that, he skated in 13 playoff games in three different seasons in the WHL. In his first taste of NHL playoff action, Green tied for the lead among all NHL defensemen in first-round goals (three) and points (seven).
Left wing Quintin Laing – Played in all 19 Bears playoff games last spring, and was with Norfolk – the team the Bears eliminated in the first round – the year before. He has a total of 47 games worth of AHL playoff experience, five games in the ECHL and 19 games in the WHL.
Defenseman Jeff Schultz – Schultz joined the 2006 Bears run to the Calder Cup championship in progress, playing seven games in what was his first taste of pro hockey. He skated in all 19 Hershey playoff contests last season. Schultz also played in 36 playoff tilts in the WHL. He got into two playoff contests with the Caps this spring, missing the other five because of injury.
Left wing Donald Brashear – Now has 56 games worth of NHL postseason experience, and potted his third playoff goal this spring. It was the first tally of the playoffs for Washington in its series against Philadelphia. Brashear played for Flyers team that advanced to the Eastern Conference finals in 2004.
Center Sergei Fedorov – Ten years ago, he skated the Stanley Cup around a brand-new Verizon Center as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. It was the second of his three Stanley Cup titles. Although this spring marked his first trip to the playoffs since 2003 with Detroit, and his first ever postseason appearance outside a Red Wings sweater, Fedorov has now played in 169 career playoff contests. He has totaled 51 goals and 168 points in those games. Not many players score at a better rate in the postseason than during the regular season, but Fedorov is one of them.
Certainly, not all of the above players will be suiting up for the Capitals when they next take the ice for a Stanley Cup playoff game. But most of them will, and the ups and downs of the seven-game series against the Flyers this spring will be a foundation for greater and deeper playoff runs that lie ahead.
“It was tougher in the playoffs; it was more physical than I thought,” reflected Backstrom after it was all over. “I think we maybe started playing good too late. We started playing good in the fourth game, maybe that’s too late. But that’s the way it is. It will be a good experience for next year.”
“We definitely learned a lot of things this year and this playoff experience has been good for all of us,” echoed Green. “I think this group of guys got a taste of what we can do. As long as we’re all committed here the next couple of years, I think we’ll be pretty successful.”
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