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Glad hockey is almost back. End of football season without hockey was getting unbearable, especially with the terps playing nobody teams between Kentucky and ACC play.
And I agree that I hope Oates has more of an offensive system than last year. Ovie is a Ferrari and we were using it as a golf cart. Basically, I hope ovie learned how to play good defense for late game purposes with 1 goal leads, but puts the emphasis for the first 55 minutes back on offense like prior seasons.
I think it's kind of unrespectful- Ovie
Let's be honest here - he scored 21 goals in 77 games last year. That is pretty terrible for $6.7 million or whatever Semin made. If Wolski scores 12 goals in 48 games then McPhee's pretty much replaced Semin's 2011-12 production for 10% of the price. Put him next to Ribeiro or Backstrom and I would guess he could pull that. Maybe not. Who knows. This entire season is a coin flip.
4 goals in 31 NHL games for Wolski last year. We'll see wut happens but I'm not going to count on much from him or anything until I see it. At least with Semin you do have the possibility of some offensive chances. Main point is that that slot isn't filled.
This post was edited by bbpgtr 15 months ago
Slapshot was out running around the Bethesda metro this morning
yep..they never should have switched to a defensive system.
I'm so glad hockey is back, but it's really hard for me to buy into the Caps this season.
ESPN posted their Caps' preview today...
Capitals: Five Things You Need To Know
By Scott Burnside
It has been a tumultuous time for the Washington Capitals the past few years, what with Bruce Boudreau being dispatched as head coach and replaced by former Capitals captain Dale Hunter last December. The coaching change didn't come without its growing pains, as the Caps became a more conservative, less dynamic team. That said, the Caps overcame a slow start to the season and up-and-down play under Hunter to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Then the seventh-seeded Caps upended defending Cup champion Boston in seven games before dropping an achingly close seven-game set to the New York Rangers in the second round. Hunter departed, though, in the offseason and was replaced by another old Capital, Adam Oates, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this past November. So this season begins like so many in recent years, with both high expectations and lots of questions.
1. No. 1 Question
Let's start with the question that everyone will be asking from the moment the puck drops until the end of the season: What's up with Alex Ovechkin? Apart from becoming engaged to his tennis-playing girlfriend, Maria Kirilenko, during the lockout, Ovechkin will come into the season looking to regain the form that saw him top the 50-goal mark four times and register 65 goals one time. In the past two seasons, though, his totals have dropped to 38 and 32. Now, that's not chopped liver, but it's also not Alex Ovechkin. We talked to Oates about his plan for his captain and it's simple, he's going to turn him loose. As he said during an interview, you don't pay Alex Rodriguez to hit singles and you don't pay Alex Ovechkin to have a good plus-minus rating. We're guessing Oates gets Ovechkin back into the hunt for a Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal-scorer and perhaps even an Art Ross. "They seem to be very excited about working together," GM George McPhee told ESPN.com shortly before camp opened. "Adam's very confident he can have Ovi playing at an elite level."
2. Backstrom's Health
While Ovechkin will garner all of the attention, the most critical piece to the Caps' offensive puzzle is the health and play of center Nicklas Backstrom. The skilled Swede was the victim of a cheap-shot blow to the head courtesy of Rene Bourque, then of the Calgary Flames. The hit left Backstrom with a concussion, and he missed almost half the season to injury. He returned in late March and had a decent postseason with eight points in 13 games but just two goals. Perhaps more troubling is that he missed time in the KHL in recent weeks with a head or neck injury. Backstrom's status is uncertain right now and Ovechkin described his teammate as being "dizzy" after getting hurt in the KHL in late December. Backstrom plans to see a specialist before training camp starts "to be proactive with his injury," according to a team spokesman.
If he's healthy, Backstrom has the potential to be a 90-point player and beyond. If he gets to that level again, it improves the chances that the Caps return to the top of the Southeast Division. While the Caps said goodbye to enigmatic winger Alexander Semin, who remains in the division having signed with Carolina, the Caps did bolster their strength down the middle by acquiring former Dallas Star and Montreal Canadien Mike Ribeiro. Ribeiro is one of 12 NHLers with eight consecutive 50-point seasons and that should take some of the pressure off Backstrom. Throw in Jay Beagle and Mathieu Perreault and the Caps may be as good down the middle as they've been in some time. "We want to make sure that part of the lineup is in good shape," McPhee said.
3. Rookie Coach
So, how will Oates adapt to his first head-coaching gig? Some might view the hire as a bit of a risk for McPhee, who is now on coach No. 3 in a little over a year. But Oates is one of the most cerebral and intense guys around. New Jersey Devils head coach Peter DeBoer, who had Oates on his staff during the Devils' run to the 2012 Stanley Cup finals, raved in an interview with ESPN.com about Oates' contributions to the team's success. Although Oates, one of the most gifted playmakers in NHL history, will bring loads of offensive savvy, it was interesting to hear assistant coach and former teammate Calle Johansson describe Oates' dedication to strong defensive play and the nasty streak he carried with him as a player. The Caps took the unusual step of having Oates coach alongside AHL coach Mark French in Hershey in an effort to help integrate Oates' new systems at the AHL level, as well as get a feel for his young personnel. With promising young defenseman Dmitry Orlov out with a concussion, Oates will likely use top defensive prospect Cameron Schilling with the big club to start the season.
4. One-Two Punch
The Washington Capitals have a bevy of top young goaltending talent, which is the good part. What's not completely clear is just who might emerge as the team's No. 1 goaltender. Michal Neuvirth was the starter two years ago when the Caps were swept by Tampa Bay in the second round of the playoffs. Then when injuries sidelined Tomas Vokoun and Neuvirth last season, Braden Holtby was called up from the minors and was stellar in leading the Caps to the second round. Holtby, who continued his strong play through the lockout with the Caps' AHL affiliate, turned in a sparkling .935 save percentage in 14 postseason games. Have to figure Holtby will have the inside track to the No. 1 job, but he and Neuvirth have the capability to provide the Caps with a solid one-two punch in goal. "We're going to need both of them playing a lot," McPhee said. "I like that we have that competition there." Not to be forgotten is German Philipp Grubauer, who is also off to a terrific start this season and was named to the ECHL All-Star Game and will assume playing time in the AHL now that the lockout is over.
5. Watch Your Words
Maybe it will turn out to be a tempest in a locker room, but early on much attention will be paid to the reception given defenseman Roman Hamrlik by his teammates. Hamrlik was one of the few players to publicly criticize the tack taken by NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr during the lockout and was immediately excoriated by his peers. Even teammates like Troy Brouwer were swift to condemn Hamrlik's comments. What kind of impact will it have on the Caps' dressing room? Maybe none. Maybe some. "I don't care about that stuff," McPhee said. "It's just not a big deal. I don't know how else to say it."
Prediction: I like the Caps' depth in goal and up and down the lineup to push them back into the playoffs, just short of the division title.
2013 NHL preview: Scott Burnside takes a look at the Washington Capitals.
We were 18th on the power play last year. It's going to take Oates working some real magic on that unit for this team to compete. I think we end up battling for the 6, 7, 8 seeds
Semin was by far the most frustrating player ever to skate for Washington. He had so much potential, and every now and then, he would should flashes of pure greatness, but other times (and sometimes most of the time), he would disappear, or if not disappear, not be a factor either. He could win games all on his own, a star quality, but not consistently, and not when you needed him to. I hated to see him go because when he was on, he was so on (you just felt that consistency would eventually come with maturity, maybe this is the year, etc)... but the truth is that is just who Semin is - he will never be that guy. It was time for him to move on. Also, I hope I'm right, because if he finds his maturity now, it will come back back to bite us hard because that asshole Sasha is still in the division...
Backstrom taking the skate at Kettler today...
Katie Carrera @kcarrera
Nicklas Backstrom just stepped on to the ice for practice today.
"Oates about his plan for his captain and it's simple, he's going to turn him loose. As he said during an interview, you don't pay Alex Rodriguez to hit singles and you don't pay Alex Ovechkin to have a good plus-minus rating"
thank God...feeling a little better now.
playing defense is for untalented players anyways. just outscore them, thats what i'd do
Thats good to hear
I'm very interested to see what happens with Tom Wilson at camp. I get the feeling we're worried about forward depth and it's a good idea to get Wilson (and everyone really) some time with Oates' system should we need him. He can only play 5 games this year without burning a year of his contract so I doubt he breaks camp with the club, but glad to see him get the opportunity.
Let's not go crazy. GMGM said Dale Hunter was going to be "up-tempo and attacking" when he was hired.
True. And Hunter actually was with his team in London. Once he got here it was tighter than snare drum.
True, but Dale never mentioned anything about turning Ovechkin loose, either....
Stephen Whyno @SWhyno
Backstrom says no concussion
did Dale ever say it though?
Over/under: 0.5 Cups in the next 10 years
The answer is pretty clear. I just need to know how bad it really is.
Great news to report out of KCI today as Backstrom confirmed he is 100% and has no consussion. HUGE.
have to go with the under sadly.
Good to hear Backstrom is healthy. He may be the key to our success (or lack of). Just glad to have games to watch and go to again. Still pissed about the lockout though.
We aren't that great right now, we're saddled with some monster contracts and I think the consensus on our farm system is we're somewhere in the 15-25 range.
We need Kuz or one of the goalies to turn out great.
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