Caps defenseman John Erskine
just finished up the eighth season of his NHL career. The rugged defenseman’s hard-nosed style has resulted in a lot of bangs and bruises along the way. Erskine has never played in more than 60 games in any NHL season and has maxed out at 52 games in his four seasons with Washington. The big blueliner skated in 50 games for the Capitals in 2009-10.
Erskine closed out the campaign with a goal, five assists, 66 penalty minutes and a plus-16 defensive rating. The plus-16 was easily his best mark ever; his previous best was a plus-1. Erskine has been a plus player for three straight seasons now. He played plus or even hockey in 40 of his 50 games during the 2009-10 season. Only once all season did Erskine have consecutive games with a minus rating (Dec. 28-30).
He finished fifth among all Caps with 80 blocked shots and sixth with 109 hits, despite playing 18 fewer games than each of the players ranked ahead of him in both categories.
Erskine’s lone goal of the season came on Jan. 26 against one of his former NHL employers, the New York Islanders. The goal was his first in more than two years, a span of 737 days. Erskine also added an assist and was a plus-3 in that game.
“I know it’s been a while, probably a couple years,” said Erskine after that game on Long Island. “It’s not really my job, so it doesn’t bug me. But it’s nice to get one in there and get the guys going. It definitely makes you feel good to score one. I don’t get the too often, so I wasn’t even sure what to do when it went it. It’s always nice to get a goal.”
Washington finished 29th among all NHL teams with 20 fighting majors in the 2009-10 season. Erskine accounted for four of those bouts, second on the club to Matt Bradley’s five.
Although he averaged 2:19 more per game (19:06 vs. 16:47) in the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs than he did during the 2008-09 regular season, Erskine did not appear at all in Washington’s seven-game Stanley Cup playoff run in 2010.
Erskine celebrates his 30th birthday on June 26. The Kingston, Ont. native is under contract to the Capitals through the 2010-11 season.