Adam’s latest column for SB Nation D.C.
The phrase “injection of youth” has become almost cliche in sports. As players get older, fresh faces come in to liven up the roster and provide a spark. But for the Washington Capitals, the complete opposite was needed. A team full of fresh faces, the Caps had lacked experience, especially in the postseason.
But that has changed this season, thanks to four key midseason acquisition. Jason Arnott, Dennis Wideman, Marco Sturm and Scott Hannan are four players the Caps have brought in this year. All have played in big games throughout their career, and all will play a key role in getting them over the proverbial hump.
Their impact has already been felt. The Caps are 2-0 since the trade deadline, and Arnott in particular has made a big difference. On Tuesday, he set up the game-tying goal from Brooks Laich in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders. Two days later, he also scored the game-winning goal in Thursday’s 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.
“Mike [Knuble] said the other day that ‘It feels good, we’ve gotten a lot older,’ but older in a good way,” Matt Bradley said after the game Thursday. “Obviously, a guy like Jason Arnott’s been through it all, the way he’s calm and leads by example is great. I played with [Sturm] in San Jose and other guys have played over 800 games. And [Wideman]. We’ve added a lot of great guys to this team, so it’s definitely an improvement.”
Washington acquired Hannan Nov. 30 in a trade that sent Tomas Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche. Sturm joined the Caps last Saturday after being claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, while Wideman and Arnott followed suit Monday in respective deals with the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils as the trade deadline approached. Combined, these four players have appeared in 3.292 regular season games as of Friday. Factor in fellow Knuble’s 951 games and these five players have played in almost three times as many games as Washington’s four “Young Guns” (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green).