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Capitals breakdown: Jeff Halpern

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Capitals breakdown: Jeff Halpern

CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Jeff Halpern
Jeff Halpern
Position: Center
Age: 36
HtWt: 6-0, 200
Games: 69
Goals: 4
Assists: 12
Points: 16
Penalty Minutes: 24
Plus-Minus: Minus-1
Average Ice Time: 12:36
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent 825,000 cap hit in 2011-12

Strengths: Halpern was the Capitals best faceoff man, leading the club with a 58.4 winning percentage, fifth-best in the NHL. As a former Caps captain he was also a strong and steady voice in the locker room, but that voice was silenced when Halpern was a healthy scratch in 12 of the teams final 15 games and 12 of their 14 playoff games.

Weaknesses: The effects of 861 NHL games have taken a toll on Halpern, whose lack of speed kept him out of the lineup down the stretch and in the playoffs. Halpern could still fill a specialty role as a penalty killer and faceoff specialist, but it likely wont be in Washington.

Memorable Moment on the ice: On Nov. 4, Halpern responded to being a healthy scratch in the previous game by scoring his first goal as a Capital since 2006 when he converted a pass from Mike Knuble in a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Halpern also helped kill off three straight penalties that helped the Caps improve their record to 9-2-0.

Memorable Moment off the ice: It was hard to find a player with more class than Halpern after he replaced Jay Beagle broken foot in the sixth game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Rangers. Its not easy, Halpern said after logging 10:23 of ice time in the Caps 2-1 win, which forced a Game 7 in New York. The most difficult part is not being in the game. No matter what anyone says you dont feel part of the team. Mentally, youre trying to keep that game intensity somehow, whether its 3-on-3 games with the coaches or something.

2012-13 Expectations: Halpern says he has every intention of playing next season but after becoming a forgotten man down the stretch under Dale Hunter its hard to imagine it will be in Washington. It obviously wasnt the finish of a season that I personally would have liked, Halpern said. The team was doing well, but as far as for my own personal career and future, you hope that theres a lot of other options out there. A young team looking for veteran leadership might have an interest in Halpern, who has played 12 seasons in the NHL but has never been on a team that made it past the second round of the playoffs.

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Tarik's 3 Stars: Nick Backstrom the OT hero in series-changing Game 5 win

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Tarik's 3 Stars: Nick Backstrom the OT hero in series-changing Game 5 win

Nicklas Backstrom tipped in a Dmitry Orlov shot in overtime, and the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 4-3 in Game 5 to take a three-games-to-two series lead in their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

Washington can now clinch the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Monday night in Columbus.

The Capitals gave up the first goal in the game for the first time in the series. But the Capitals had an answer. The Capitals then took the lead. But the Blue Jackets had an answer. The Capitals took the lead again in the second period, but the Blue Jackets tied the game in the third.

But Nicklas Backstrom had the answer in overtime.

Tarik El-Bashir's 3 Stars of Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Game 3 

1. Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

Backstrom delivered the Caps’ biggest goal of the season 11:53 into the extra session by knocking a point shot by Dmitry Orlov down and past Sergei Bobrovsky, who was the Blue Jackets’ best player in overtime.

The goal was Backstrom’s first of the series.

He also recorded an assist.

2. Matt Calvert, Blue Jackets

The third line winger scored nine goals in the regular season. After popping a couple in Game 5, he’s now got three in this series.

And Saturday’s was a doozy. After T.J. Oshie mishandled the puck at the blue line, Calvert was off to the races. He whiffed on his wrist shot but still managed to get the puck (and himself) in the net to even things, 2-2, early in the second period.

3. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals

Kuzy was arguably the Caps’ most active forward.

Early in the second period, the smooth-skating center finished a three-on-one with a sneaky wrister that slithered through Bobrovsky’s pads. Kuznetsov also nearly set up Alex Ovechkin at the doorstep with a ridiculous slap pass. Alas, Ovi was turned by Bob, who went into the full splits to get a piece of the puck.

 

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

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With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

With Andre Burakovsky out for the remainder of the first round at least, someone will have to replace him in the top six. Originally, it looked like Jakub Vrana was the man for the job. Based on Game 4, however, it now looks like Chandler Stephenson is the "next man up" for the Caps.

While Vrana may have top-six skill and a high ceiling, it was Stephenson who stepped into the second-line role on Thursday playing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. Stephenson finished with two shots on goal in 17:28 of ice time. Vrana, meanwhile, played for only 6:40.

On Friday, Barry Trotz praised Stephenson's hockey IQ for allowing him to adjust to the top-six in a complementary role.

"[Stephenson's] an intelligent player," Trotz said. "He played with [Backstrom] a lot [Thursday]. If you talk with the real top-end guys, he has the ability to think like a top-end guy in terms of play with them. He’s a very intelligent player. He skates extremely well. He’s got some strength to his game. He can complement people. I think his ability to play those different roles and his hockey IQ when you play with those skill guys, he plays more of a give-and-go game than an individual game. When you play with those high skill guys, you’re able to compliment them very well."

Stephenson has spent the majority of the season on the fourth line. He was drafted as a natural center, but has played primarily wing since coming to the NHL. The ability to play both positions gives Stephenson more versatility than most forwards which Trotz credits for helping him see the game so well.

"The great thing about Chandler is he’s played multiple positions over the years. I think it’s allowed him to play a fourth-line role and with high-skill guys. At center-ice, you distribute the puck a little more.  He’s turning into a well-rounded player for us."

On the surface, having Stephenson on the fourth line over Vrana makes little sense. Vrana is highly skilled and has great speed, but he is also prone to giving up turnovers and his production can be inconsistent. Trotz has clearly put a premium on responsible play this postseason which gives Stephenson the edge.

But Game 4 was only one game. If you are going to get top-six minutes, Stephenson will be expected to produce offensively as well. Despite the limited ice time he has gotten, Vrana has shown he can have a major impact on games. In Game 1, he set up the team's only 5-on-5 goal and drew a penalty. In Game 3, he drew two penalties in less than two minutes, giving Washington a two-man advantage.

Stephenson had a fantastic game in Game 4 when he was given the chance to play in the top-six. The next step will be finding a way to have a bigger impact on the game.

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