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Predicting If Washington Capitals' Top Stars Will Improve or Decline in 2014

Robert WoodCorrespondent IMay 17, 2013

Predicting If Washington Capitals' Top Stars Will Improve or Decline in 2014

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    Perhaps thinking about the 2014 NHL season will help Washington Capitals fans forget about the painful end to the 2013 season.

    Well, I will force you to do the former, but I can't guarantee the latter will occur.

    Here are predictions for the Washington Capitals' top stars, to determine if their statistics will improve or decline during the 2014 season. In essence, this list is the Capitals' best possible on-ice lineup and will include three forwards, two defenders and one goalie.

     

    Note: All statistics courtesy of NHL.com unless noted otherwise.

Alex Ovechkin, Wing

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    Alex Ovechkin had an excellent 2013 season.

    The Russian winger led the NHL in goals with 32 and was tied for third in points with 56, while playing in all 48 games of the shortened season. Ovechkin also led the league with 16 power-play goals, meaning exactly half of his goals came on the power play.

    According to Hockey-Reference.com, Ovechkin averaged 0.67 goals per game and 1.17 points per game during the season.

    Over the course of an 82-game season, Ovechkin's 2013 averages would project to approximately 55 goals and 96 points, with 27 power-play goals.

    2014 PREDICTION: 55 goals, 105 points, 22 power-play goals

Nicklas Backstrom, Center

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    Nicklas Backstrom had a bounce-back year in 2013. It helped that he did not miss any games due to injury this season, as opposed to the 40 games he missed last season.

    Backstrom was third in the NHL in assists with 40 and added eight goals for a total of 48 points. He also added 15 power-play assists, ninth in the NHL.

    Backstrom averaged 0.83 assists and 1.00 points per game in 2013 per Hockey-Reference.com, and 37.5 percent of his assists came with a man advantage. 

    For a full season, Backstrom would total 68 assists and 82 points, with 26 power-play assists.

    2014 PREDICTION: 75 assists, 100 points, 30 power-play assists

Troy Brouwer, Wing

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    The 2013 season was a career year for Troy Brouwer.

    Despite playing in only 47 games because of the work stoppage, Brouwer scored 19 goals, 17th in the NHL and just three below his career high. His seven power-play goals were also 17th in the league and tied a career high in that category.

    Brouwer averaged 0.40 goals per game according to Hockey-Reference.com, and 36.8 percent of his goals came on the power play.

    In 82 games, Brouwer is projected to score 33 goals and 12 on the power play.

    2014 PREDICTION: 25 goals, 10 power play goals

Mike Green, Defenseman

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    Mike Green was able to stay relatively healthy this season, and it was reflected in his performance.

    Green played in 35 games in 2013, versus only 32 in 2012. The Calgary native improved his numbers from a year ago by scoring 12 goals and totaling 26 points. He also added four power-play goals.

    Green led the NHL in goals by a defenseman, despite being the only player among the top six of that category to play fewer than 42 games.

    For the season, Green averaged 0.34 goals and 0.74 points per game according to Hockey-Reference.com. Exactly one third of his goals came on the power play.

    True, Green has only played 82 games in a season once in his eight-year career. But for the purposes of this exercise, his 82-game projections based on his 2013 averages would equate to 28 goals and 61 points, with nine power-play goals.

    2014 PREDICTION: 25 goals, 70 points, 10 power-play goal

John Carlson, Defenseman

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    John Carlson garners a lot of attention for his offensive skills, which means his defensive work is often ignored.

    As a result, Carlson is one of the three most underrated players on the Washington Capitals.

    In 2013, Carlson had 59 hits, 123 blocked shots and 18 takeaways while playing in all 48 games. Carlson was third among all NHL defensemen in blocked shots and 28th in takeaways.

    Based on these numbers, Carlson's projections for an 82-game season would be 101 hits, 210 blocked shots and 31 takeaways.

    2014 PREDICTION: 100 hits, 225 blocked shots, 40 takeaways

Philipp Grubauer, Goalie

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    Philipp Grubauer is the next "goalie of the future" for the Washington Capitals. And the future will arrive next season.

    The 6' 1", 185-pound Grubauer was ranked eighth among the Capitals' Top 20 Prospects by Hockey's Future and spent most of the 2013 season in the minors. The 21-year-old German played 26 regular-season games for the Reading Royals of the ECHL. He then played 28 regular-season games and five playoff games for the Hershey Bears of the AHL according to HockeyDB.com.

    His most memorable game was a 54-save performance in a 5-4 overtime victory for the Bears in the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs.

    But Grubauer also made his NHL debut in 2013. He played in two games and finished with an 0-1 record, a .915 save percentage and a 3.57 GAA.

    2014 PREDICTION: 45 games played, 25-15-5 record, .925 save percentage, 2.50 GAA

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