Looking retrospectively at the Capitals organization since the arrival of the explosive Alexander Ovechkin, an observant fan may notice some strong similarities between the triumphs and failures characteristic of that resurgent squad, and those we experienced in Detroit during the 1990′s.
Both battalions were comprised of highly skilled hockey artisans, who had already reached, or were on the cusp of reaching, legendary status. The Detroit of the 90′s and the Washington of the mid to late 2000′s, crushed opponents with seemingly great ease. Several skaters on both teams were worth the price of admission, and when those players were coupled with others of either comparable or complimentary skill, the tickets became golden.
If an organization is competent, each playoff disaster will edify the team, and the coaching staff, as to what it takes to capture the Stanley Cup.
Detroit didn’t just learn from our nightmarish losses to teams like Toronto in 1993, San Jose in 1994, New Jersey in 1995, and multiple spankings dealt by the former juggernaut of Colorado. We took those defeats, and used them as a potent fuel to power our jets, and our will. Four glorious championships followed shortly after.
It seems now that I, your humble Nostradamus, was on to something when I noticed the analogous situation, regarding the Wings of old, and the Caps of now.
Although I am loathe to say it, my pick to win the Cup in June is the team from the nations capital. Of course, this is subject to change. But an analyst, whose name escapes me, said of the 1996-1997 Red Wings: “Scotty Bowman has taken his team, and made them a little less pretty, and a little more gritty.”
This is what has happened in Washington.
Ovechkin seems to have caught on that a leader and a champion, must be a factor in all 3 zones, going east as hastily as he heads west. Nicklas Backstrom has regained his form, and has already proven to be a capable scorer in the post-season. Mike Green consistently shows that his 30 goal season was anything but a fluke. Marcus Johansson is blossoming into one of those sneaky, Hudler type scorers.
The questions that remain are Alexander Semin and Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun has some playoff experience, and those experiences were generally unpleasant. Semin is a potential fifty goal scorer, but may prove to be one of those lamp lighters who has serious trouble carrying that touch into the post season. Marian Hossa is another good example of this kind of forward.
Ovechkin and the Caps will win the Cup, sooner or later. This could very well be their year. The team is simply too talented, too determined, and too well coached and managed to fall short forever.
I actually like the Capitals. If they won the Cup this season, I would be fine with it.
But the Detroiters must have something to say about that. Adding a forward during the season, which I am certain we will do, could put us over the top.
A Detroit/Caps Final would be a fantasy realized.
Let’s hope for one.