Editor’s note: RMNB alumnus/free agent Patrick Holden filed this article. Follow him on Twitter for some nice tweets in your timeline.
When the Caps claimed Dmitrij Jaskin off of waivers in early October, we knew the Caps were getting a depth forward who played a strong defensive game. Jaskin’s play has been so strong in the early going that he’s earned himself ice time higher on the depth chart and will be a hard guy for Todd Reirden to sit even once the team is back at full strength. While he will ultimately best fit into the bottom-six over the long-haul, it’s hard to overstate just how strong Jaskin’s defensive game has been over the first month of the season.
The Caps have allowed 57.8 shot attempts against/60 minutes at five-on-five this season. When Jaskin has been on the ice, the Caps have allowed just 35.8 shot attempts per 60 (for perspective, the Golden Knights allow the fewest shot attempts/60 in the league, coming in at 47.8 shot attempts/60). To help illustrate how good this is, here’s how all of the Caps’ forwards have fared in shot attempts against this season, as of November 6:
|Forward||Opponent shot attempts/60|
Digging down a little further, most of the shots opponents get against the Caps when Jaskin is on the ice are pretty harmless, relatively speaking.
As a team, the Caps give up a good amount of shots from the slot, relative to the league average.
But when Jaskin hops over the boards, the Caps become drastically better at limiting dangerous shots against.
We knew Jaskin was good defensively when the Caps claimed him. And while he may not be able to keep up this heroic defensive effort all season, he’s certainly proven his worth defensively.
Here’s a clip from a recent game that helps show how Jaskin has such an impact on the game defensively.
On Saturday against Dallas, Jaskin made a pass that was a little behind Brett Connolly. The Stars were able to force a turnover at their own blue line, a dangerous area on the ice for this to happen. But because of Jaskin’s defensive effort and smarts, the play ended up being harmless. Here’s the full play:
At the start of the play, this looks like potential trouble for the Caps, as the Stars could turn this into a three-on-two.
Jaskin is the Caps player to the right of the screen in the picture above. He’s hustling back to try to help out on what could be an odd-man break for the Stars. Already, he’s doing more than some forwards on the team would do in this position.
His positioning here is especially smart. The Stars player in the middle of the three has the puck and wants to kick it out to the player at the top of the screen. This would open up the ice a bit and give the Stars more room to work with as they enter the zone. However, Jaskin smartly defends that passing lane, forcing the Stars to work in tighter space coming down the wing.
Jaskin continues to pressure the puck carrier. As a result, Jaskin and Michal Kempny are now able to have their sticks fully in the passing lane to the Stars player at the top of the screen, essentially turning the play into a two-on-two coming down the wing. Further, the Stars players at the bottom of the screen, the second guy in the two-on-two, is now almost at a complete standstill, reducing the risk of this threat.
As the Stars enter the zone, this rush now looks harmless. Jaskin and Kempny have the puck carrier boxed in with no real passing option. This rush has been stopped. The Stars try a drop pass but Jaskin quickly challenges the puck and clears the zone. What could have been a dangerous three-on-two rush for the Stars turns into a play where the Stars can’t get the puck more than five feet inside the Caps zone before being stopped.
There are examples every game of how Jaskin’s effort and smarts are making an impact, especially defensively. Plays like this one show why Jaskin was highly thought of when the Caps claimed him and why he will continue to make an impact when he’s on the ice.
Photo: Cara Bahniuk
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