Sports Extra: Capital Preview

Photo courtesy of clydeorama
Four Caps, No Waiting For Love, courtesy of clydeorama

Thank goodness, it’s almost Hockeytime.

No, seriously. I get the Redskins, people. Really. But I’m not a football fan. It’s all about sticks, pucks and skates – and the cool Zamboni ‘race’ between periods.

Hockey. Where the men have more gaps in their teeth than West Virginians. (I kid! Ok, not completely.)

And yes, Ovechkin, I’m lookin’ at you.

I’ll state right up front for full disclosure that I’m still a Penguins fan. But I’ve gotta say, I’ll admit to some Capital lovin’ this time, simply because the Washington Capitals have finally found the formula for success. And no, I refuse to give Leonsis credit. (Well, ok, I give him credit for saving Pittsburgh from Jagr, but that’s all I’ll budge for.) Especially when he’s basically making it impossible for Pens fans to buy single-game tickets this year. (Boo!)

So you want the condensed version of my Capitals’ preview of the 2008-2009 season? Easy:

Now’s the best time to jump onto the Capitals’ bandwagon.

Five reasons why I think the Caps will have their best season in the last decade:

Alexander Ovechkin. A lot has been said about No. 8 and his clear dedication and devotion to hockey and its fans. He walked away with a lot of hardware after last season – except the Stanley Cup – and there’s no reason for him not to repeat. (And me, an avowed Crosby fan, so take note!) He’ll most likely knock in at least 60 goals again and rocket to the top with around 130 points – but I think he’ll most likely become remembered for yet another fun-filled adrenaline-spawned goal celebration. Admit it, he’s a trip to watch after he scores.

Bruce Boudreau. This is your saving grace from a toilet-tanking season last year, people. Rookie NHL coach, Jack Adams award winner (that’s Coach of the Year for you bandwagoners) and extremely dedicated to the craft of hockey, he’s going to be this year’s architect for another Caps repeat as Southeast Division champs.

Forward Momentum. Ovie’s got a great cast surrounding him this go-round. Alexander Semin’s hitting his stride – provided he remains injury-less – and will most likely break that 40 goal barrier. Nicklas Backstrom will avoid the ‘sophomore slump’ that plagues many hot rookies and if placed on Ovie’s wing, may well lead the team in assists. And let’s not forget Michael Nylander, who returns from major shoulder surgery. If he’s back to last season’s form, then the Caps are looking at two solid core lines to grind every night.

Mike Green. Man’s a locomotive with a massive artillery shot. I don’t think he’ll top last year’s 56 points, but he’ll stay above 40. Not to mention continue steamrolling lone enemy forwards on breakaways.

“Southleast” Division. No, I’m serious. The perennially pathetic Southeast will continue to trip over themselves as Washington and Tampa fight over the top spot. No, I don’t think the ‘canes have it this year – Tampa’s suddenly transformed themselves (into Penguin clones) and will give Ovie and Co. a run for their money. Still, the weakest division in all of the NHL will pretty much pave the way for a Caps domination and automatic entry into the playoffs. Because let’s be honest, it isn’t going to be the goaltending of Jose Theodore that’ll get the wins.

So once they get there, how do I think they’ll do? Too early to tell, really. There’s a lot of games between now and then. If I had to hazard a guess, I think the Caps have the potential for knocking their way into the semifinals at the least. And you can then blame the loss all on Jose Theodore. It’s okay, every other team blames him, too.

Prediction, then? 48-21-13, 1st in Southeast, Out in Round 2.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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