Michael Raffl made his debut as a Capital in the team’s 1-0 shootout victory over the New York Islanders on April, 22. While he did not put up any points, Raffl appeared to adapt well to his new teammates and played well.
Raffl is the latest to make his debut for the Capitals this season, but far from the only one to do so this season. Anthony Mantha made his Capitals debut on April, 13. Connor Sheary, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Zdeno Chara, Daniel Sprong and Vitek Vanecek have also all made their debut with Washington this season.
The newer guys to the Capitals have been vital to the team’s success this season. Let’s take a look at how some of these players have been impactful in recent games.
Trade Deadline Acquisitions
Anthony Mantha and Michael Raffl were acquired by the Capitals at the trade deadline. Mantha has played in five games with Washington while Raffl has played in one.
Mantha scored a goal in each of his first four games as a Capital. This makes him the first-ever NHL player to score in his four games with a new team after a mid-season trade. Aside from his goal scoring, Mantha has been a notable presence in the offensive zone. He takes plenty of shots and has meshed well with the style of his linemates TJ Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom. Mantha’s goal streak may have ended, but he should be able to keep up his stellar start to his career with the Capitals.
While Raffl has not made quite the same goal-scoring impression that Mantha made, his performance against the Islanders was very promising. Raffl played on the third line with Lars Eller and Connor Sheary. He fit in well with his linemates, contributing to good offensive opportunities, defensive plays and an overall gritty style. Raffl is yet another veteran presence on the Capitals, bringing experience in the regular season and the playoffs. Hopefully, he will continue to make his presence known on the ice and contribute to successful games for Washington.
New This Season
Zdeno Chara is set to enter his 1,600th career NHL game on April 24, so he has not been referred to as new in quite some time. He is, however, new to the Capitals this season and is therefore a new guy.
Chara has played well this season, but especially on the penalty kill. He frequently plays for the majority of each penalty kill and has been vital to the unit’s success. Against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 17 Chara put his body on the line during a penalty kill by blocking multiple shots and batting a puck away from the net. His performance demonstrated how he has been important this season in providing dedication and physical play to the team.
Trevor van Riemsdyk is another defenseman new to Washington this year. He has not had much ice time but came in for the Capitals on April 18 in place of Chara. Van Riemsdyk also played on April 22 as Justin Schultz was out with a lower-body injury. He played well on both the 18th and 22nd, providing solid defense and seeming to fit right in. Van Riemsdyk had not played since March 16, but he came into the game strong. His ability to play well even after a long absence is important because it provides the Capitals with a reliable backup should any defensemen sustain a long-term injury or need to take a break.
Conner Sheary is another new(er) Capital who has made his mark recently. While Sheary has been playing well all season, his offense has been heating up as he has recorded six points in his last six games. Sheary had a great game against the Islanders on April 22. Should Sheary and his line continue to play well, they will score goals and help their team in the final stretch of the season.