It’s September; and we have reached one more milestone before the start of the 2011-12 NHL season.
With the countdown until October and reaching that final threshold before the puck drops in the regular season Fansided is going to take a look at each team in the league one day at a time.
Today we are taking a trip to see how the Washington Capitals are going to finally reach the Stanley Cup Finals – something they have not done since 1998 and us here in Hockeytown remember how that 4-0 sweep turned out.
So is this the year Alex Ovechkin leads his team past the second round? Will Mike Green become a defensive defenseman or will he just switch completely over to being a forward?
Continue reading as Capitals Outsider’s Taylor Lewis takes a look at the 2011-12 Capitals…
The organization let go of a number of players: Jason Arnott, Matt Bradley, Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, Andrew Gordon, Marco Sturm, and less notably, Brian Willsie. Statistically, the seven represent a loss of 78 points (based on last season).
Enter center Jeff Halpern and wingers Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward. Among their former teams; Montreal, Chicago, and Nashville, respectively; the three combined for 91 points. So on paper, everything so far works out for the Caps.
When it comes to defense Wings fans have been spoiled over the last two decades with having Norris Nick on the blueline; and have played a similar puck possession game to four Stanley Cup Championships.
Which makes it hard to imagine what it is like having your defense being your weakest link to the level the Capitals have it:
A major Achillies’ heel for the Capitals last season was the blue line. It became so bad that Bruce Boudreau was forced to change the teams system from the run and gun offense that everyone was accustomed to a more trap defensive system. Because of this, the Caps ended the regular season in 4th for goals against per game (2.33), tied for 2nd in penalty kill percentage (85.6%), and 9th in shots allowed per game (29.0).
Probably the best thing going for the Capitals is goaltending.
Often overlooked because of players like Ovechkin, Green, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstoom the guys in net play a huge part in the U.S. Capital.
On July 1st, the Capitals traded Semyon Valarmov to Colorado for a first round draft pick in 2012 and second round draft pick in 2012 or 2013.
Right when it looked like Michal Neuvirth was looking like he was going to be the opening night starter, McPhee locked up what is arguably the best free agent in this years pool when he signed Tomas Vokoun the very next day. Neuvirth was quoted in the offseason when talking about Vokoun, saying “When I was a kid, I wanted to be like him. Now, I want to be better than him.”
All I can say is good for Neuvirth. Is there any better attitude to have? You are now playing with a player you have looked up too and rather than taking it as a blast to the ego the young goalie has approached it as a challenge.
Be sure to read the preview in its entirety.