Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caps Preseason to Begin Tonight - mini analysis

Hello everyone! I'm finally back to writing about the sport that brought all of us together on this page - hockey! Last night, I caught myself watching the few preseason games that were televised, specifically the Flyers/Devils game where the Flyers won 4-3 in a shootout) and the 5-0 demolishing of the Maple Leafs by the Senators. Tonight, the Washington Capitals begin their exhibition season in Columbus to face the Blue Jackets.

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The Caps will start tonight despite a quiet offseason in terms of a lack of moves to the roster. No new additions were made, and only until later did Washington lose a player. Of course, we all know now that player was Eric Belanger, who was promised a trade would be made so that he can remain on the team, but that that trade was never made, and Belanger moved on to sign with Phoenix, angry as ever at the Caps' organization. Unfortunately, I am not in the front office, and General Manager George McPhee has not said much about the lack of roster additions/trades/etc., so not much else can be confirmed about the situation; although some details that aren't really worth going into have emerged.

With Belanger gone now, the solidity of the center position is now further weakened. Other than David Steckel and the oft-injured Boyd Gordon, the Caps are left with Tomas Fleischmann, Mathieu Perreault and Marcus Johansson to fill in the remaining spots at center. With the team in "Win Now" mode, this may be seen as a questionable approach to the team's concerns regarding center.

However, as I mentioned way in the beginning in the offseason, people should hold their horses in lacking faith in the team. It should be noted that this does not mean that someone won't become available during the season. McPhee has been a fan of renting players, and may be just saving space for someone acquired before or by the trade deadline. There does not seem to be a question whether the Capitals will have the ability to win the division and do well in the playoffs. So with Washington staying competitive during the year with what they have, the mentality could be that there is no rush to improve until there is more of an indication of players' abilities and the market.

Of course, this season, most people are not going to expect the regular season the Caps had last year. Especially because the rest of the Southeast Division improved immensely during the offseason, there is no way the Capitals are winning the division by 30 points again... I don't want to say that last season was a fluke overall... But it was a fluke. This doesn't mean that the Caps weren't that much better than every other team in their division and most teams in the Eastern Conference, but just that the numbers were slightly inflated and most likely won't be repeated.

Nonetheless, the Caps' chances to win it all this year are still high. Tom Poti in his new two-year extension took a pay cut to stay in Washington because he feel his best chance to win is with Washington. Although, it should be noted, the window for winning is only open for so long. During the firesale years, fans of the Capitals were promised a Stanley Cup by now, and at this point, the Caps have had the ability to do it in the past couple of years. With enough frustration from early playoff exits, the squad probably has the drive now built up to make it as well. The ultimate judgment will come soon enough.

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By the way, in case you were wondering, the Washington Post job has been working out really well :)

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