Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gut Reactions: Washington Capitals

Pictured: The magnificent gut of Randy from Trailer Park Boys.

Being that I'm still trying to come up with an interesting concept for our "real" season previews, I thought it would be important to start getting into game shape for the season. So on a semi-daily basis, I'll roll out these unsolicited opinions on various NHL teams.

Keep in mind that these are assessments made without painstaking research and are not meant to be "official" predictions. Whatever that means, anyway ...

There is no denying that Ovechkin is an absolute force of nature. His goofy personality, penchant for borderline head hunting and unmatched goal scoring ability make him the true ambassador to the Sportscenter generation.

What makes the Capitals especially intriguing, though, is that their second and third best forwards have every reason to take another step toward becoming elite players. Both sublime passer Nicklas Backstrom and enigmatic sniper Alex Semin are entering contract years, making it far from improbable for three Capitals forwards to flirt with 80-plus point outputs.

(And let's not forget the faux hawked Paul Coffey in training Mike Green, who tallied a stunning 73 regular season points playing something vaguely resembling "defense.")

After getting worn down by the relentless forechecking of Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke, it seems like the Capitals are beginning to lean a bit more toward the Canadian farmboy grit that frequently makes a difference in the playoffs. It's debatable whether they wanted Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov to go overseas, but for my money I'd rather have young, hungry Europeans rather than old Europeans with little to gain.

Mike Knuble, in particular, could end up being quite the find for a team that already had an insane powerplay.

Ultimately, the issues come in a still-questionable defense and a still-troubling goaltending situation.

Simeon Varlamov (or whatever he's going by these days) showed a ton of moxy in the playoffs last year, but it's unclear if he's truly ready for a big time workload. Jose Theodore is rapidly approaching Andrew Raycroft/Jim Carey territory.

That being said, the Capitals are clearly the class of the Southeast Division and very well may improve simply because Ovechkin and his talented colleagues are a year older. After all, it might not matter if a cheesehead/Dan Cloutier is in net with all the goals the Capitals should pile up.

Lightly researched, impulsive prediction: #1 in the Southeast Division; #2 in the Eastern Conference


Dani said...

For the love of my eyesight, please post something new so that I don't have to see that photo every time I visit the page.

CLS said...

Awww poor Randy.