March 1 vs. New York Islanders at Verizon Center
Time: 7:00 pm TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 820AM, 1500AM and XM Pre-Game: Pre-Cap Podcast at 2 p.m. on washingtoncaps.com
Washington Capitals (33-20-10)
New York Islanders (23-32-8)
Washington takes on the New York Islanders at Verizon Center on Tuesday to close out the season’s series between the two teams and open up the March portion of the 2010-11 season.
When the Caps take the ice for Tuesday’s tilt, they’ll likely have three new faces in their lineup. Leading up to Monday’s 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline, the Capitals added three veteran players and all are expected to arrive in the District in time to suit up on Tuesday.
On Saturday, the Caps announced that they had claimed 32-year-old left wing Marco Sturm off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings. A seven-time 20-goal scorer who has been bothered by leg injuries in two of the last three seasons, Sturm arrived in Washington over the weekend and had his first practice with his new teammates on Monday.
“I thought Marco practiced really hard today,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “He looked very good positionally. He looked good and it looked like he melded with the guys right away. I’m looking forward to seeing him in [Tuesday’s] game.”
A Monday morning deal brought defenseman Dennis Wideman to the Caps from Florida in exchange for minor league forward Jake Hauswirth and Washington’s third-round choice in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The right-handed shooting Wideman leads all NHL defensemen with eight power play goals this season.
Given the recent injury suffered by Caps defenseman Mike Green, who was the victim of a head shot courtesy the Rangers’ Derek Stepan in New York’s 6-0 win over Washington on Friday night, and the ongoing injury woes of Capitals rearguard Tom Poti, the addition of a workhorse like Wideman should bolster the Washington blueline heading into the playoffs.
“I think it’s a great pickup,” says Boudreau of the Wideman acquisition. “You look at our situation, with Mike Green not being available for at least probably the next week, we’ve only got six healthy defensemen. I think it’s no secret that our power play is struggling. Dennis Wideman is a good power play point guy, a good puck mover. He’s a solid veteran that has played on really good defensive teams, and he plays lots of minutes for whichever team he plays for. I don’t think we could have made a better defensive pickup than that.”
The Caps have been struggling to move the puck out of their own end recently, and Wideman should help in that regard. He should also help to generate offense in both even-strength and power play situations. Although the Caps got a goal from a defenseman in eight straight games very early in the season, they’ve had exactly one goal from a blueliner – that from rookie John Carlson – in their last 21 games.
Wideman had his best season with Boston in 2008-09 when he totaled 13 goals and 50 points and was a plus-32. This season, Wideman has nine goals and 33 points and is minus-26 in 61 games.
“I’m excited,” said Wideman on the NHL Live show on Monday afternoon. “A little surprised, but all in all really excited. How can you not be going to a team like Washington?”
Sturm and Wideman were teammates in Boston last season, and Sturm had positive things to say about his former Bruins and current Capitals teammate.
“He loves the puck really well, he sees the ice really well, especially on the power play,” says Sturm of Wideman. “He’s a good guy to have on the point. He played pretty good in Boston for us.”
Wideman was in his first season with the Panthers after spending the last few seasons with the Bruins.
“It’s no secret, they’ve got a high powered offensive team,” said Wideman of the Capitals. “They play a game where they’re coming at you and they’re tough to play against when they play that way. They play hard, they move the puck really well. As far as their year has gone this year, they’ve struggled a little bit and there’s a lot of pressure on their team – on our team, sorry – to win and go deep. I think the last couple years they’ve dominated so much in the regular season and they didn’t have a lot of humps to get over. Hopefully this I making their team strong and more adaptable come playoff time.”
Minutes before the deadline, the Caps completed their day’s work with the acquisition of veteran center Jason Arnott from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for center David Steckel and the Caps’ second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
“He’s been the captain of an NHL team,” says Caps general manager George McPhee of Arnott, “he’s won a Cup and those kinds of intangibles were something that we wanted in the room like we had when we picked up [Sergei] Fedorov a few years ago.”
The seventh player chosen in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Arnott scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in double-overtime for New Jersey in 2000. Nearly 18 years removed from his NHL debut with Edmonton, Arnott has posted a dozen 20-goal seasons in the league.
“There weren’t many centers available,” says McPhee, “and he was one that a lot of people wanted to have. He had a no-trade clause and when [Devils’ general manager] Lou [Lamoriello] told him we were interested, he was hoping that it would work out with us. Lou played it real well and made it happen and got a fair price for him.”
Sturm will sport sweater No. 18, Wideman No. 6 and Arnott No. 44 for the Capitals.
The Capitals and Islanders have hooked up three times previously this season, most recently on Saturday night on Long Island. All three games have been one-goal contests, and Washington has come out on top all here times. The Caps earned a 3-2 win on Saturday, rebounding from a 2-0 second-period deficit in the process.
New York was quiet at the deadline, but it did deal away several players earlier in the season as its ongoing rebuilding process continues. The Islanders lost forward Robbie Schremp on Monday; he was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Fishermen recalled Justin DiBenedetto from AHL Bridgeport to take Schremp’s place on the New York roster.
Notes: Goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who missed a scheduled start on Saturday against the Islanders after suffering an injury at the morning skate, is day-to-day with a lower body injury.