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For Game Seven, It’s Time For The Caps To Pass The Torch
On Sunday, the Boston Bruins forced a game seven by beating the Capitals, 4-3, in overtime at Verizon Center. While the pundits have predicted that this series would end up going to seven games, many fans feel that it never should’ve gotten to this point. There have been some players who have stepped up and brought their “A” game, such as Karl Alzner, but there are some who have caused more harm than good. One of these players is Dennis Wideman.
Wideman, an all-star selection this year, is having a series he would rather forget. In six games, he has only registered one point (an assist) and is tied for the lowest +/- rating on the team (a whopping -4) while averaging over 19:00 of ice time per game this series. There have been many times he’s been beaten by Bruins forwards that has lead to goals, which is shown by having the fourth-lowest on-ice Sv% of .864 (a stat showing Braden Holtby’s save percentage when Wideman is on the ice). When it comes to his performance in driving possession, he ranks 11th on the team as far as on-ice Corsi at -15.28. In his defense, Nicklas Backstrom is the only member of the Caps who doesn’t have a negative on-ice Corsi, so Wideman is not the only one who isn’t driving possession. Regardless, he is expected to do more as one of the more offensive-minded defenseman.
There are cries from fans and bloggers (myself included) who feel that Dennis Wideman should be scratched in game seven. He probably should’ve been scratched before Sunday’s matinee against the Bruins in order for rookie Dmitry Orlov to get a chance to show what he is made of.
Orlov was called up in the beginning of this season when Mike Green was injured, and performed beyond expectations. In 60 games during the regular season, he tallied 3 goals to go with 19 points and had a higher +/- rating then Wideman (a +1 in comparison to a -8). Although Wideman did face better competition than Orlov, Orlov did do better in most advanced metrics, including PDO, on-ice Sv%, Corsi On, and CorsiRel (DISCLAIMER- since Orlov has not appeared in a postseason game, these stats are from the regular season).
I asked Ted Starkey what he thought the reason was that Orlov has been scratched. He stated “…there was a feeling he hit a wall a bit.” While this may have been true towards the end of the season, there is no better time to dress Orlov than for game seven. Dennis Wideman becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season. Although nothing has leaked out from the organization, there are insiders who feel that Wideman may not be offered another contract due to Orlov’s emergence and the organization wanting him to be up in Washington full time next season. If that is truly the case, it would be in the best interest of the team to give Orlov his chance to show them what he can do in the biggest game of his career. He is faster and more physical than Wideman, and against a Bruins team who is extremely physical and gritty he would be the better defenseman to dress against them.