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Hope Fading In D.C.

from pucksandbooks of On Frozen Blog,

On at least three occasions during Monday night’s national television broadcast the NBC Sports studio tandem of Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick explicitly alluded to the Capitals lacking any discernible identity. It’s a sentiment I began expresing on this blog about two years ago. And it’s a lead reason why I find it, in year seven of Alexander Ovechkin’s NHL career, so difficult to invest much interest any more in this team as currently comprised. They are going nowhere, and Nicklas Backstrom’s injury is only a minor reason for that. Recall: prior to Backstrom’s injury, this club wasn’t exactly striking fear broadly about the league, either.

The Capitals aren’t merely relatively dull to watch — especially relative to two or three seasons ago; they don’t possess a carefully assembled architecture of character, cohesion, guile, and identity — and leadership — that gives us much reason to watch with hope. We are wtinessing late this February the final fleeting flickerings of the very style that so enthralled and so captivated so many District sports fans as newcomers to hockey. Soon, Alexander Semin will be gone. So, too, may other Young Guns. Theirs was a style that metamorphosized Chinatown. But it also wasn’t a style well suited to the tight confinements of the NHL postseason, and the Capitals, cognizant of the imperative to change under Dale Hunter, don’t have the players to carry it out. They are a transformational outfit of mismatched pieces attempting to compete against clubs who know who and what they are. As such they aren’t a good bet to outperform the well identified adversaries among whom they’re bunched over the next six weeks. My gut says Capitals management knows this and therefore will be sellers rather than buyers as the NHL trade deadline approaches in a week’s time.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Evilpens's avatar

because It just wasn’t BBQ Bruce that was the Problem star players, GM & Owner are incompetent fools too

Posted by Evilpens on 02/21/12 at 11:36 AM ET


At this point, the Caps should be SELLING in my opinion. Returns are high in a market that has very little supply. I’m a proponent of playing for a championship not the playoffs; and the Caps aren’t healthy enough, and don’t currently have the tools, to well, even make the playoffs… let alone go on a playoff run.

They could really clean up this roster to set themselves up for future years. 

And OFB is correct.  Their first problem is leadership.  Sure, leadership can be taught.  But it’s nice to have some qualities of leadership already in place to work with.  Ovechkin doesn’t.  The bull should be left to play like a bull… attacking, carefree, little thought required.  The leadership should be left to a leader.  Although he seems to be a bit quiet, Brooks Laich comes to mind.  Troy Brouwer maybe.  Leadership determines the character of the team.  And this team has little to no character.

At this point, they’re not even built like teams that are successful in the playoffs.  They don’t bang in front of the net near enough, they only have a handful of players that are gritty.  Simply put, this team is not tough in any sense of the word.  Semin was voted, by his NHLPA peers, as one of the easiest players to intimidate in the NHL.  Mike Green is routinely targeted by opposing teams because they know he will eventually break.  Backstrom’s brain is currently mush.  Our only regular tough guy, Matt Hendricks, isn’t a tough guy… he doesn’t deter anyone.  You just CANNOT assemble a team with soft “young guns” and no protection.  The last time the Caps had that protection was when Brashear roamed the ice.  And guess what?  Everyone was healthy and the Caps were poised to make a playoff run. 

So start with character issues.  I hope we don’t have three Russians skating in DC next year.  Do we really want to strengthen locker room cliques and kill the lack chemistry even more? 

Then onto team composition.  GMGM should be selling.  It makes sense…. at least to a long-term thinker.  Set Hunter up with “Hunter-eque” players.  The guy is probably going nuts coaching this team of soft toilet paper.

Posted by Siggy25 on 02/21/12 at 11:53 AM ET

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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.

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