A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
Man cannot live by Redskins alone.

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  1. #1

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    Florida Atlantic

    Default Examiner: The Washington Capitals will win a Stanley Cup this season.

    Great article that has me really excited about this season. Yes, we've seen it all before, but this year's depth at forward & defense should have every Caps fan very excited.
    -----------------------------------------

    Over the past few years, viewing regular season, Capitals hockey, has been the near equivalent of being a tourist on the National Mall, for Independence Day. If you’ve never seen it before, watching fireworks brazenly burst about the Capitol, is a treat.

    But for the local, the National Mall, Independence Day celebration is not that special, we're no longer awed by it. We've simply seen it before, we get it. Nor are we that impressed when the Capitals have another amazing regular season, we've seen it before, and in the end, it hasn't meant that much.

    You see the playoffs, have humbled us, and made a few of us, a bit more cynical. For up till now, we've found that those regular season fireworks, have less military value, when used in a real firefight.

    It simply comes down to this: Over the past few post-season's, the Capitals have been more bronze, than bite. Throughout most of the 1990’s, it was the other way around, but as the organization still hasn’t found the perfect post-season mix, the Caps have yet to shake a history of making playoff time, about as joyous as an IRS audit. We don’t need to cite examples here; they simply are too painful.

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    But here’s the new deal. Things are about to change in this town, and for once, that change isn't merely superficial. Re-read this as many times as you want, the message remains the same: The Washington Capitals are going to win the Stanley Cup this season.

    ***

    Why? Here’s why. With the additions of Joel Ward, (A high energy grinder, who became a big-time scorer in the playoffs) Troy Brouwer, (A potential 20+ goal scorer) and the out-of-nowhere acquisition of goaltender Tomas Vokoun, the Capitals finally have a team that from the very start, is readymade for post-season hockey. Keeping the ever versatile Brooks Laich around, didn’t hurt either.

    That the Capitals are starting the season with such a solid team, is an important thing to consider.

    Last year, with a burgeoning hole beyond 1st line center, the Capitals tried to plug Tomas Fleischmann in to the role of 2nd line center. Problem solved? Not exactly, and while picking up Jason Arnott before the end of the trade deadline, was wise, it turns out that he would not be the final piece of the puzzle, in producing a Stanley Cup champion. Chemistry simply cannot be bottled and sealed over-night; it needs an entire season to flourish.

    And flourish it will. The pieces are all in place.

    For right now, we’re talking about a team that has the big scoring threats of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Semin. We’re also talking about a group that with Brouwer, Ward, Mike Knuble and Matt Hendricks, should be able to win many of the battles in the trenches, and score those always meaningful, ugly goals.

    With known secondary scoring threats, and all-around fundamentally solid players like Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson, Jeff Halpern and Troy Brouwer, from top, to bottom, the Capitals have a versatile forward group that should be able to carry them to the highest level. This may be the finest collection of grit, finesse, and elite level talent that this organization has ever seen at this position.

    ***

    Moving on, at defense, there are so many things to be excited about, and we aren’t just talking about the fact that Tyler Sloan is no longer here.

    23-year-old Karl Alzner, and 21-year-old John Carlson, already have established themselves as the top two defensemen on this team. One has to dig deep for the numbers, which our friends at Japers Rink have already done for us, (Thank you!) but what one finds is that despite playing against the toughest competition, night after night, there are no better defensemen then Carlson and Alzner at keeping the play in the other team’s zone.

    At 23 and 21, these two are just getting started, a fact that should be very scary for the rest of the NHL.

    Much like the play of Alzner and Carlson, control is also a big part of Dennis Wideman’s game, and we couldn’t be happier to have him for a full season. (As was the case with Alzner and Carlson, the advanced statistics tell much of the story here.)

    Last season, (Including time spent on a weaker Florida team.) Wideman started his shift, 391 times, during even-strength play, in the offensive zone. He kept the play in that zone, (Meaning that by the time the next whistle or break in play occurred, the puck would still be in the offensive zone,) 66.8% of the time, the highest percentage of any Capitals player.

    Wideman is also very adept at tilting play to the other end, when play starts in the neutral zone. In 52.5% of the neutral zone shifts, that he started last season, when Wideman left the ice, the puck would be in the offensive zone.

    But Wideman brings a lot more to the table then just zone discipline. He’s also a natural at transitioning the puck from one end to the other, and he is also a major force on the power-play. Nine of Wideman’s ten goals last season, came on the man-advantage.

    On this team, Wideman, in my mind, replaces Mike Green as the unofficial ‘X-factor’ on defense. He’s a veteran who plays a style that can be proactive in helping to jump-starting an offense, but controlled enough where he won’t get caught down ice while the other team counter-attacks. Wideman knows his first job is defense, and he plays that well.

    As for Green, with so many fundamentally sound defensemen on this team, he can actually play a more loose game, where he takes more risks.

    Green is a much better player when he is free to play his game, and with a better group of defenders that can cover for him, we expect Mike Green to be a much more active presence, on the offensive score sheet this sesaon.

    And when Green does make a mistake, or jump too far into the offensive rush, at 37 years of age, new acquisition Roman Hamrlik might be just what the doctor ordered in terms of covering up those mistakes.

    For even is his twilight years, Hamrlik is fleet enough to transition back from offense to defense when he needs to. With twenty NHL seasons under his belt, Hamrlik is also someone who should be a calming influence, on, and off the ice. Finally, Hamrlik is also very good at clogging up passing and shooting lane, as his team leading, 192 blocks last season can attest to.

    With the Capitals suddenly much more deep on defense, Jeff Schultz, who needs to play far more physical in front of his net, now should be moved down to the 5th or 6th defenseman spot. While Schultz can be very fundamentally sound, and could, at least be a #3 defenseman, on many teams, the Capitals have enough depth at defense that they can make him earn his time, by forcing him to play with a little more venom. This depth is just another indication of a team that is Stanley Cup ready.

    ***

    Finally, we cannot forget about the acquisition of Tomas Vokoun, the final bow on the enormous gift that was this off-season.

    Vokoun came to Washington, despite a major cut in salary, because he saw the Capitals as the best place to win a Stanley Cup. That type of commitment speaks volumes for Vokoun, who put up decent numbers in Florida, despite having little defense to speak of. This battle-tested goaltender, is also very capable of stealing a playoff series.

    At 35 years-old will Vokoun hold up for a full season? If he can’t, the Capitals have the very capable and ever improving Michal Neuvirth as a backup, so they’ll be in very good hands if that need arises.

    As far as goaltending combos go, outside of Boston, you won’t find many teams that have a better one-two then Vokoun/Neuvirth. It is a championship worthy combo, and this is a championship worthy team.

    Click link for the rest of the article.
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  2. #2

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    Virginia

    Default

    Going into a second OT. Need this one and if it can be done, the Caps have a real chance in this series.
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  3. #3

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    Marine Corps Virginia

    Default

    Not until they start winning these kinds of games they don't. I like what I saw during the first OT. But the bottom line is - you have to win these.

    I'm not a believer. Not yet anyway. I am, however, a 'hoper'
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  4. #4

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    Marine Corps Virginia

    Default

    Nice win Caps! Very exciting game 2 to watch.
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  5. #5

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    Florida Atlantic

    Default

    I don't think the Caps would have been able to dig themselves out of an 0-2 hole, that win was vital. Gotta start winning these games in 60 minutes though, otherwise they're gonna be out of gas for the next series!

    And I know its not the Caps, but man its nice to see the Pens in an 0-3 hole and getting annihilated! I hate the Flyers almost as much, but the Pens are number 1 on the list.
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  6. #6

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    Florida Atlantic

    Default

    I'm starting to think Puck Daddy may have been on to something when they named Dale Hunter the NHL's worst coach this year. Seems to not know what he is doing. Doesn't help when the Refs are tilting the ice, but Wideman and Schultz, going up against the 3rd & 4th lines of the Bruins, have been TERRIBLE. Both are -4 in plus/minus and dead last in the playoffs, despite the Penguins giving up approximately eleventy-billion goals. Need to bring back Orlov and Erskine, at least see what they can do.

    And Keeping 6'3, 230lb Knuble on the bench against one of the more physical teams in the NHL? Just doesn't make sense. Need his big body screening Thomas at the VERY least. So pissed this morning.
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  7. #7

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    Florida Atlantic

    Default

    And would it kill the refs to call a diving penalty every once in awhile????

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...t3NT_blog.html
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  8. #8

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    Marine Corps Virginia

    Default

    Every time I start to invest in the Caps they disappoint me. Head cases.

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  9. #9

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    Florida Atlantic

    Default

    The referees in the NHL are by FAR the worst in sports, even worse than soccer. At least in soccer, there really is only one ref, and he has a huge pitch to officiate. NHL has 3 guys out there and its a much smaller rink.

    And as bad/inconsistent as the refs are, the disciplinary committee is even worse.

    ZERO game suspension for this (just a fine): [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyJB42HY_J0[/video]

    Not even a PENALTY for this hit (discipline to be meted out today or tomorrow): [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU4F6QQHVNs[/video]

    One game suspension for this: [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCXZLEOx5uY[/video]


    Now, the reason the NHL didn't give Weber a suspension was because he had no history of suspensions. Neither did Backstrom! Its quite ludicrous.
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  10. #10

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    Virginia

    Default

    Needed that one. On to game five.
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  11. #11
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    Florida State

    Default

    They give the Bruins extra time by not starting the clock when play began with 9.5 seconds left and it's still not enough.

    What is going on with the officiating!?!?!
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    The more things change...the more they stay the same. It's like deja vu all over again.

  12. #12

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    Florida Atlantic

    Default

    Man, Semin truly is a special player - the GWG was just ridiculous! He has definitely been 'ON' in this series.

    In case you haven't seen it, here it is in all its laser-rocket glory:

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_mx248p_wk[/video]

    Quote Originally Posted by Elephant View Post
    They give the Bruins extra time by not starting the clock when play began with 9.5 seconds left and it's still not enough.

    What is going on with the officiating!?!?!
    I noticed that too - ridiculous.
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  13. #13

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    Florida Atlantic

    Default

    So, got an explanation on the clock delay - and its because of the fans! The building was SO LOUD, the timekeeper couldn't get the refs attention. From TSN's Bob McKenzie:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob McKenzie
    Here's what happened in WSH with clock. Timekeeper trying to get attention of refs to say .9 seconds needed to be added to 9.5 showing. Building was so loud that while timekeeper was trying to get refs' attention, puck was dropped and timekeeper didn't start game clock. 5.3 seconds of game action passed without timekeeper starting the clock. If BOS had scored in the extra 5.3 second it would not have counted.
    I find it slightly hard to believe that with the way the refs have been calling the games that they would have disallowed a game-tying goal for the Bruins in the final 9.5 (14.8) seconds. But, good thing we never have to know!
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  14. #14

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    Florida Atlantic

    Default

    To clarify even further - the goal woudl have been disallowed if it was in the FINAL 5.3 seconds, so if that shot in the final seconds had gotten through Holtby, Caps still would have won.
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  15. #15
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    Florida State

    Default

    I am skeptical about that LL. After what I have seen in this series, I find it hard to believe the refs would have made the right call.
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    The more things change...the more they stay the same. It's like deja vu all over again.

  16. #16

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    That was good. Need just one more to advance.
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  17. #17
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    Florida State

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    I am scrambling to find a ticket. I have been back to MD for 3 years and still have not been to the Verizon Center. I am going tomorrow if I can get a good ticket!
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    The more things change...the more they stay the same. It's like deja vu all over again.

  18. #18

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    'Just one' has been hard enough to come by. No way am I going beyond cautiously optimistic at this point.
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  19. #19

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    Well, back to Boston. They can do it. Have faith.
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  20. #20

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    Default

    Can they? Not so sure. That was the kind of loss, coming off a lackadaisacal 'I'm half asleep' pass, that sucks the life out of a team. Having fought back, tied it up late, forced overtime - and you lose like that? I don't know that they come back from that.
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