Remember the days when the Capitals could barely break the top 25 in national power rankings? Let alone the top twenty. Well the expectation level has jumped to the top ten. Top 5 if you just count the Eastern Conference.
espn.com came out with their mid summer power rankings and the Caps are nestled between the New York Rangers (4) and New Jersey Devils (6). espn is not about to rank the full league however, so their 5 place ranking is just in the Eastern Conference. Guess whose number one.
The Caps, according to the rankings, look to be Southeast Division champs agian. But goaltending will always be suspect, and Burnside sort has that angle down. If Jose Theodore can be the goaltender that he was for Colorado, what's to say the Capitals can't make it work.
Another problem is the recent bump in the road for the Capitals is the salary cap. With Shaone Morrison's arbitration winnings yesterday, the Caps are now about $900,000 over. That means some of the prospects will have to sit in Hershey a bit longer, until at least the trade deadline, when the cap doesn't matter. Or a trade could be likely, but McPhee obviously wants everyone back.
With this new ranking, comes an expectation level on these players to do even more this year. A better start, a better road record. A better overall effort by everyone. Because in a year's time, this team will look somewhat, if not completely different.