Another excruciatingly long summer is over. Actual hockey games are on the horizon. Because this is the 265th most widely read hockey blog on the internets, MYFO felt a deep obligation to our dozens of readers to prepare this series of previews telling you about every single team in the NHL. By “prepare” we mean, we found other people to write many of them for us. We were looking for people who (unlike us) might have an actual clue about these teams, but were also eager/willing/dumb/not self-respecting enough to work for free. Within those constraints, we think we did an admirable job.
Today’s preview of YOUR Washington Capitals is brought to you by frequent MYFO commenter and liveblog fan favorite Caps Red Army.
The Capitals are a young team, they say. Sometimes that’s one of those things you say about a team when you want to say the team is “rebuilding” but you can’t, because everyone has already figured out that “rebuilding” is code for “playing like shit for the foreseeable future.”
There is little doubt that this was an accurate description of the Capitals at the beginning of last season. Unfrozen caveman hockey players and Uncle Ted “The Rebuild is Over” Leonsis’ statements aside, the Caps of last year sucked, to put it delicately. Who knew that all it would take to fix the season was an extra from Slap Shot to turn things around? (Note to the St. Louis Blues: I hear the Sparkle Twins are still available…think about it).
One glorious (but brief) playoff run and several armfuls of shiny trophies later, the Caps are a completely different team., but still a young team. Add the collective ages of the entire Caps roster together and they’re still not as old as Chris Chelios. This is pretty damn significant, considering that that number includes one unfrozen caveman hockey player (approximate age: 40,000 years old) and Sergei Federov (approximate age: infinity) in the mix.
But this year’s young team is actually projected to succeed. Will it happen? It depends. This year’s Caps are much like the kid who is labeled a genius by standardized testing and is put into the gifted and talented program. Two things can happen to this kid. One, he becomes that kid who ruins the curve on every test, goes to an Ivy League college, and waves to you from his plush box seat with that smug successful smile on his face. Two, he becomes bored from lack of intellectual stimulation, drops out of school, and spends his life building bombs in a shack in rural Idaho.
The Caps face similar prospects. By the end of the year you could have a team that has steamrolled the entire Eastern Conference and finds itself deep into playoff territory. This is not an unlikely outcome (see: Ovechkin, Alexander…rumor has it he’s a slightly above average player). On the other hand, you could have a team that derails so quickly that even Toronto will manage to sweep the series. The Caps definitely seem to be a team that thrives on its underdog status, so having the upper hand could actually be a disadvantage (see: Philadelphia playoff series, 2008). So what’s the verdict? All in all, I have a good feeling about this year. We’ve got Ovechkin, Backstrom, Boudreau, Paris Hilton’s sloppy seconds, and Mike Green’s mohawk.
It’s Ovie Time, bitches.