Monday, September 8, 2008

Season preview: Washington Capitals


8 Alexander Ovechkin
10 Matt Bradley
14 Eric Fehr
15 Boyd Gordon
17 Chris Clark
19 Nicklas Backstrom
21 Brooks Laich
25 Viktor Kozlov
28 Alexander Semin
37 Keith Aucoin
39 Dave Steckel
43 Tomas Fleischmann
53 Quintin Laing
56 Chris Bourque
87 Donald Brashear
91 Sergei Fedorov
92 Michael Nylander

2 Brian Pothier
3 Tom Poti
4 John Erskine
23 Milan Jurcina
26 Shaone Morrison
42 Sami Lepisto
47 Karl Azner
52 Mike Green
55 Jeff Schulz

1 Brent Johnson
40 Simeon Varlamov
60 Jose Thoedore

Coming off a surprising season, where they barely made the playoffs, the Washington Capitals are full hope for 2008-09. Playing in a weak South East Division, the Caps are the favorites to win their division. A much improved Lightning team and an always dangerous, but unpredictable Hurricanes team might challenge the Caps for the division title, but the very young Atlanta Thrashers and the enigmatic Florida Panthers will be hard pressed to even make the series.

The biggest question mark the Capitals face is their new netminder Jose Theodore, who was signed as a UFA to replace veteran Olaf Kolzig (now with TB) and deadline acquisition Cristobal Huet (now with Chicago). Theodore had a strong season with the Avs last year, but he struggled at times since they acquired him from Montreal in exchange for David Aebischer.

The defensive corps is young and underrated. Mike Green is a budding superstar and Tom Poti is a savvy veteran presence. Both players are surrounded by versatile players like Shaone Morrison, Milan Jurcina and Brian Pothier. The latter, however, will likely start the season on the LTIR, due to concussion problems, clearing a spot for rookie Karl Alzner, who is almost 100% of making the team, unless he has a horrendous traning camp.

Up front, the Capitals can compete with anyone in the league. The face of the franchise, Alex Ovechkin is getter better every year and he will be very well surrounded this season with veterans like Michael Nylander (back from a serious injury), Viktor Kozlov and deadline acquisition Sergei Fedorov. Not to mention youngters like Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich who should all improve last year numbers. Finally, don't forget Chris Clark who only played 18 games last season due to injuries. Clark scored 30 goals in 2006-07 with a very weak Washington team.
Expect Ovechkin to reach 120 pts and Backstrom 100 points. Players like Nylander and Semin should reach the 70-point mark easily barring they stay healthy.

The Capitals will finish between the 3rd and the 6th place in the Eastern Conference.


Corey said...

they really missed Chris Clark all last year, he will make this team go even further into the playoffs

Charlie said...

This will be a fun team to watch.

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