‘All alone in the net’
courtesy of ‘bhrome’
Tomorrow is the start of the 2010-11 NHL regular season, pretty much the only sport that matters in my household. Around the DC area, the Washington Capitals are becoming – if not already – the number two sports franchise, and with good reason: unlike many of the other pro teams in the area, the Caps have been consistent winners the last several years.
Today’s date, actually, should probably be declared a local holiday. Why? Well, five years ago on October 5, some rookie with the number 8 on his sweater hit the Verizon Center ice in the season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Forty seconds into the game, Alexander Ovechkin – the rookie in question – hit defenseman Radoslav Suchy so hard against the glass that one of the supports broke loose and hit the ice. A portent of things to come? If so, Ovechkin had two more signs to stamp his arrival to the NHL that night – his first two goals of his career, one of them a great one-timer from Jeff Halpern. At the end of that game, there was no doubt: Ovechkin – and the Capitals – had arrived at the next level.
It’s been an Ovechkin-fueled rocket ship ride for the Capitals since, with no sign of stopping.
Boudreau and Capitals at Bench, courtesy of clydeorama
I recently had the pleasure of chatting about hockey with John Buccigross, ESPNEWS Anchor and SportsCenter host – and the former primary host of NHL 2Night when ESPN covered NHL games. Bucci’s (as many call him) columns on hockey on the ESPN website are often insightful, humorous and engaging. Just don’t call him ESPN’s “hockey guy.”
Since the Washington Capitals have hit the halfway point, I wanted to give a mid-season review, so why not Bucci?
Sum up the Caps season so far. At or above expectations?
[Bucci] Right about where I thought they would be. Maybe a little better. They are certainly among the NHL elite. Time will tell if they can win low scoring playoff games and if they have enough playoff defense and goaltending when they play a good team every night for two months.
Areas of improvement?
[Bucci] Team defense, blueline, a goaltender to trust to win for two months, and keeping their goals against lower.
Goaltending. Can they be successful with just Johnson and Theodore (and some solid minor-league backups), or is this where McPhee needs to pull a trade-trigger?
[Bucci] This where GM’s earn their money. They get paid to make tough decisions. They have to make a determination if they have the goaltending to win the Cup. I would think they don’t because they are not a great defensive team. But, if they can improve in that area and they keep scoring goals, they might have enough. Continue reading