Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/21/12 at 11:22 AM ET
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.
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