Washington Capitals preview

Overview: Can offence win championships?

That’s the question that routinely gets asked in all the professionals sports.

In basketball, Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns never won a championship, despite being exciting and scoring like crazy. In football, Peyton Manning never won when he was tearing up the league in scoring, and the season when Tom Brady broke the record for most touchdowns in a season, he lost in the Superbowl. Both teams won when they were focussed on defence.

And in hockey, the Washington Capitals are seen as the league’s best offence, but struggle come playoff time.

Will this be the year when offence finally wins out?

Best offseason move: Signing Nicklas Backstrom to a long-term, cap-friendly deal. Backstrom is talented enough that he would be the #1 guy on most teams in the league, but is the second banana to Alexander Ovechkin in Washington. But a $6.7 million cap hit for a young talented guy for the next 10 years is a great deal for Washington, and easily their best move of the summer.

Worst offseason move: Listening to coach Bruce Boudreau. All summer long, every time he was asked about what made him happiest in the offseason, he said it was former Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak being traded to St. Louis. Yes, Halak played great for Montreal in the playoffs, but it doesn’t address the issues the Caps had. They never changed their strategy, guys took way too long shifts, and there was an air of arrogance around the team. Montreal played a team game (look at the blocked shots), and won. Washington didn’t, and lost. To think it all came down to Halak is overlooking the problem.

Dark horse trophy candidate: John Carlson for the Calder

Pool pick: Mike Knuble. He had 53 points last season, while only playing 69 games. With a full season, he should hit 65 points. Who to stay away from: Semyon Varlamov. If you’re in a pool that chooses goalies, don’t take Varlamov thinking he’s going to pick up a lot of wins. It’s expected he’ll battle with rookie Michal Neuvirth for the #1 job. And Bruce Boudreau has shown in the past that if the goalie struggles, he’ll get pulled.

Sporcle quiz: Can you name the Washington Capitals roster?

Best hall of fame choice: Alexander Ovechkin. He has eight different medals on the international stage, and nine different trophies from the NHL. He has scored at least 46 goals in each of his five seasons in the league, and has at least 50 in four of them. He’s been a point-per-game player in every playoff series he has been in, and has 269 goals in less than 400 games.

Blog to follow: On Frozen Blog

My Prediction: First in the Southeast, first in the East

Famous celebrity from that city: Katherine Heigl


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