Kukla's Korner Hockey
Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington answered some questions,
what's the caps odds of finishing top 4 in the metropolitan division? Or is too early to tell?
If the season ended today, the Capitals would be preparing to face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs while the Pittsburgh Penguins would be polishing their golf clubs for an early summer vacation. From the start of training camp I’ve been saying the Caps are good enough to finish in the top five or six in the conference and I still believe they are good enough to nail down one of the top three playoff spots in the Metro.
I thought the Penguins would struggle out of the gates with new coach Mike Johnston and they’re off to a 3-2-1 start, just one point off the playoff pace.
I thought the Islanders improved themselves dramatically with the summer additions of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, center Mikhail Grabovski and defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk and they’re off to a 5-2-0 start.
The Ottawa Senators [4-1-0] and Detroit Red Wings [4-1-2] have been pleasant surprises so far, but I’d be shocked to see both teams get into the playoffs, especially with the Bruins and Penguins expected to rise to the top of the conference.
The Caps are off to a solid start under new coach Barry Trotz and they should get better as they grow more accustomed to his way of playing. So, yes, the Caps should finish in playoff position and, quote honestly, should not shoot any lower than a Metropolitan Division title.
more Washington related questions....
from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy,
Sportsnet has a debate segment on its NHL coverage called “To The Point” in which Nick Kypreos and Glenn Healy argue different perspectives on hockey’s most pressing issues. Or if they run out of them, “Is Alex Ovechkin coachable?”
That was the topic on Wednesday night* during the Washington Capitals’ game at the Edmonton Oilers, one of the few games this season in which Ovechkin went scoreless.
Kypreos took the “I believe in Ovie” side, although he said Ovechkin is “not the sharpest knife in the drawer” and said it’s “his last chance to prove he’s not a coach killer.” Which sounds really ominous, until you consider that it doesn’t really mean anything except that he’ll get another coach or two or 10 before his contract runs out.
Healy attempted to make that point, although it was like giving a filet mignon to a hot dog vendor to cook. Here’s Healy on Ovechkin’s coachability:
continued and/or watch the segment below which also includes more topics...
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
We’re still in the honeymoon of this relationship, with the Capitals unbeaten at 3-0-2 as they open their three-game Western Canadian swing against the Edmonton Oilers tonight. Yet it seemed fitting to ask Trotz, Washington’s fifth head coach since Ovechkin entered the league in 2005, how he plans to get the 51 goals out of his superstar winger, but shore up the minus-35 defensive rating.
“Dominik Hasek used to say, a star player starts each year at minus-10,” began the coach, referring to the desperate situations near the end of games, when a team goes all out to score and so often gives a goal up. Or the fact that the best players face the best competition, and thus, are bound to surrender more goals than someone playing against the other team’s fourth line.
“So star players start out at minus-10. How (Ovechkin) got the other minus-25, I’m not quite sure,” Trotz said with a laugh. “There are some things in his game that he is committed to change. Not all of (his deficiencies) were Alex’s fault. Some of the things he was asked to do, it probably took away from him defensively. The player that I know has been very good in all those areas.”
Normally in a column about Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals, it’s right around now where one points out that nothing this club does in the regular season matters anymore.
from Alex Prewitt of the Capitals Insider,
The summer signings of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik came with intended secondary consequences for the Washington Capitals, trickling down to the rest of the defensive corps.
The expected logjam at the depth chart’s bottom has somewhat been sorted already, with Nate Schmidt starting the past three games, John Erskine and Jack Hillen taking healthy scratches, and a host of once-NHLers returning to Hershey.
The Capitals also wanted to even out their blue line ice time, a difficult proposition last season given the league-high 14 defensemen who played. Now, with a top five defined from the moment Niskanen and Orpik signed their deals, the players see a welcome balance.
“I think that’s the luxury that we have now,” defenseman Karl Alzner said.
Tough night for Schneider.
“It’s just such great theater. The bar keeps getting raised, and we’ll have a couple of unique things to D.C. I’m sure we’ll do something important with the military. Hopefully we can get President Obama to come. It’s Chicago, it’s Washington, it’s national television. I’m hoping that we can get President Obama to come to the game.”
-Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals on the Winter Classic. More from Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog.
Would you call this embellishment or a dive by Alex Ovechkin?
Below a recap of how the NHL will handle the diving/embellishment this year...
“They come down from the lake country of Canada, these tough young men with dentures and the quick eye for the girls. Most could skate as early as they walked, and their first flirtation with hockey was whacking a horse apple down a snow-covered street, the way an American kid would kick a can.”
That is how the Washington Post described hockey to their readers 40 years ago. (The Caps first season)
More from Sarah Larimer of DC Sports Bog at the Washington Post.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
They came into the league out of the ashes of a soul-sucking lockout that scuttled an entire season and got the kind of fanfare that precedes players maybe once in a generation.
They were asked to do nothing less than restore hope and guide the NHL into a new future, a new golden age of hockey.
So on many levels, it's hard to argue that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin haven't delivered on those demands in spades, time and time again.
"They're still the face of the league. For sure they are," said one longtime NHL player who has worked at a number of positions with a number of teams around the league.
Between them, Crosby and Ovechkin have collected five Hart Trophies and six Ted Lindsay Awards as the players' MVP in the past eight seasons. And then there's Crosby's Stanley Cup ring and two Olympic gold medals.
"That's not going away," the source said of the two players' accomplishments, regardless of whatever issues assail their respective franchises.
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
“My expectation is that because this is a world-class organization with great talent, that if we don’t make the playoffs, we’ll all be disappointed,” Leonsis said. “As I mentioned before, I can’t name a single team that’s won the Stanley Cup without making the playoffs.”
Stanley Cup notwithstanding, the new-look Capitals have engendered a wide range of preseason predictions from reporters — three of eight Sports Illustrated writers slotted Washington into the playoffs, for instance – and Leonsis said that might be such a bad thing for a new regime.
“I read all the hockey communiques, all the blogs, all the online stuff,” he said. “Not many people are even picking us to make the playoffs again. I’m not sure whether the players or coaching staff read that. I know some of our fans do. I have.
“Yeah, I think that could be positive. There aren’t a lot of expectations for us. Maybe there will be a different kind of pressure on the team, which is to prove experts wrong. But I think they’re in this for the right reason. They think they have a good team. They think we have good personnel and we haven’t achieved our goals. The first goal we have to reestablish is we have to make the playoffs.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org