Monday, July 31, 2006

Raising the Bar

Making the playoffs or being 3rd from worst in the eastern conference? Choosing a goal for the Capitals may be the big questions as off-season acquisitions roll along. Obviously the bar is set for more than 29 wins, for which the Capitals set last year, but the signings look like more of the same, with little improvement to go on.

There has only been on significant addition thus far, the signing of defensemen Brian Pothier (a consolation prize for not landing Zdeno Chara) and the reacquisition of Richard Zednik from Montreal. Both either players add any significant numbers to the Capitals line up.

So what are the lofty goals this year for the Washington Capitals? Is it realistic to say playoff bound, or just settle for 30 wins? One thing is for sure, the Caps have banked all of their hopes on prospects and youth. Two things the Stanley Cup finalists last year had little of.

With their hopes that with time comes improvement, the Capitals look for their young hopefuls from Hershey to be the next big thing in the NHL. Names like Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr, Mike Green, and Jakub Klepis will be the hope of the Capitals quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup. But how long is it suppose to take, how long are fans suppose to wait for this immaculate conception of a champion team when all the same players show up in Caps sweaters again?

The Caps looked at support for Alex Ovechkin by drafting Nicklas Backstrom, only to see him stay in Sweden for another year. Saying that the Caps need defense is an understatement, but no moves had been made to get a veteran blue liner. Olaf Kolzig flat out said he had no more than three years left in him, and failure to secure any kind of defensemen to help the veteran, that figure may get lower.

The plagues that keep the Capitals seem many. It’s hard to swallow the thought of management standing by and simply crossing their fingers in a “let’s wait and see” strategy. The Caps have proven talent in Ovechkin, solid goaltending in Kolzig, and that is about it. There must be more support for the team to reach any goal as lofty as the playoffs. Otherwise the bar is only set for 1 more win than last year.

1 comment:

Gary said...

"But how long is it suppose to take, how long are fans suppose to wait for this immaculate conception of a champion team when all the same players show up in Caps sweaters again?"

As a long time Caps fan (and a longer-time Lightning fan), I'd have to say... as long as it takes to build up the right system. Solidify the lines, get some defense either through trades or from within the Caps' own resources, and keep players on the team who are buying into that system.

You don't go from being one of the worst teams in the league to contenders (or Cup Champs) by constantly shuffling lines, or by having a rotating door to the locker room. Consistency in coaching & on the ice, and, perhaps, even sucking it up for another season or two while everything gels is the only way to get where we all want the Caps to be. JMHO.