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It’s Washington Capitals day on PHT

Aug 28, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Washington Capitals.

If ever there was an accurate way to describe the Capitals season last year it was a roller coaster ride. At one point they were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and looking like a team that made a mistake hiring Adam Oates as their new head coach.

That’s when the team finally got comfortable in his new system and Alex Ovechkin took over on his way to a Hart Trophy-winning season. Scoring a league-leading 32 goals in a shortened season and looking like the Ovi of old had fans in Washington believing whatever Oates was selling.

While the team took down a very weak Southeast Division on their way to another division title, they bowed out yet again to the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. With a full season to work with, Oates has a real test ahead of him in a new division.

Offseason recap

Things were shaping up to be yet another quiet summer in D.C. until recently when GM George McPhee made, arguably, the best signing of the summer landing recently bought out centerman Mikhail Grabovski. The Capitals’ glaring weakness was at their second center spot after Mike Ribeiro grumpily bolted to Phoenix. Grabovski gives them a guy who will push their offense and score goals as well.

The team had a buyout of their own in defenseman Jeff Schultz who moved on to Los Angeles. Free agents Ribeiro, Matt Hendricks (Nashville), and Joey Crabb (Florida) all landed elsewhere while the team made some depth signings to help fill out their AHL roster in Hershey.

Here’s to hoping new blue liner Tyson Strachan (signed from Florida) doesn’t have an awkward first day on the job with Jason Chimera.

The Capitals are sticking to their guns with the roster the way they had it, for the most part, last season. That’s not a new strategy in Washington, but maybe this time it can prove to be successful.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

  1. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 28, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    The big question for the Caps is can Oates get them to actually play good “D”. Caps were 18th in Goals Against Average, 28th on SOG allowed, 27th in PK.

    Their scoring got them into the playoffs, but you can’t advance with that kind of defence. Those numbers are telling. Of the bottom half of the league in SOG allowed, 5 made the playoffs. In the bottom hald in GAA, 3 made the playoffs.

  2. lowenni - Aug 28, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    I’m not going to say the Caps are going to win the cup this year, but for the most past I do like this team. I think if most of our young guys (Orlov, Perreault, Johansson) can reach their potential or at least step up, our forward lines will be dangerous. Right now we have a solid top six, led by two of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the league (Ovi and Backstrom). The bottom six should certainly get the job done with a fantastic 3C in Brooks Laich and an underrated playmaker in Perreault. As for the defense, I think Green (who I believe has rediscovered his old form and has improved defensively), Carlson (one of the more underrated defenseman in the league) and Alzner (a fantastic shutdown defenseman who showed glimpses of some offensive ability last season) make up a great top three. If Orlov can step up and kick Erskine out as the 4th, then that’ll be a solid group. I like Oleksy a lot and either Hillen, Erskine, Schmidt or Orlov could take that last lefty spot. In goal, we have two Olympic camp invitees (Holtby-Canada and Neuvirth-Czech Republic). I truly believe the sky is the limit for Holtby. He could be a top-3 goalie in a few years if he works on consistency, because he is both athletic, smart, has strong positioning, and is unfazable. Neuvirth is also a solid goalie who would likely be a starter on many teams. If I was the coach I’d have the lines look like this:
    Forwards:
    Johansson-Backstrom-Ovi
    Erat-Laich-Brouwer
    Perreault-Laich-Ward/Wilson
    Chimera-Beagle-Ward
    Defense:
    Alzner-Green
    Orlov-Carlson
    Hillen-Oleksy
    Goal:
    Holtby
    Neuvirth
    Grubauer

    All this is led by a smart and gifted coach in Adam Oates, and I expect the Capitals to do damage this year (and then choke in the playoffs).

    • capitalspearljam - Aug 28, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      you have laich playing two lines, you forgot to add Grabovski to the mix.

      • lowenni - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:53 PM

        My mistake, I meant to have the second line as:
        Erat-Grabovski-Brouwer

        I figure Grabovski and Laich will switch around between 3C and 2C, and Laich could probably see some time on the wing in the top 6 as well.

      • capitalspearljam - Aug 28, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        also, i think matty p will get some time centering the 3rd and 4th lines, beagle is more suited for the wing. hopefully chimera will bounce back this year too, we could use him on the 2nd and 3rd lines

  3. fivetozeroingame7 - Aug 28, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Maybe this team will get a lot of undeserved attention, then shart royally when it counts. Outlandish, I know.

    • bmoreredfury311 - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Just like your rags , right.
      You should be more worried about maybe losing the King,because thats the only mean reason you guys won. Keep holding on to that win in game 7 cause thats all you got. See Oct 16th donkey!

      • fivetozeroingame7 - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:26 PM

        See you there. And here.

  4. earpaniac - Aug 28, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    I think the Caps are in that dreaded playoff purgatory. Will they make the playoffs? I think so. But with all rosters equal, can the beat the Bruins? Pens? Or the Hawks? I don’t think so.

  5. blomfeld - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    YES YOU CAN !

    Notwithstanding my disdain for Ovechkin, I wish the Washington Capitals ‘all the best’ on this their special day ! You guys are a solid organization, you always ice competitive teams and if memory serves me right, ‘yours’ was the first to ever feature a ‘brother’ back in the early 70’s ! :)

  6. vbcaps - Aug 28, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Even tho I am partial because I am a Caps fan, I think this could be one of the sleeper teams in the East.

    Their top 6 is solid. They have depth at center with the Grabo signing, Hotlby can be lights out, Neuvy has shown a few signs of being an NHL undisputed no. 1 goalie

    I would like to see Backstrom shoot more this year, he has a good shot but I I feel he has a “pass first” too much last year when he should of shot…i agree with some who say he hasn’t looked the same since that Borque cheap shot to the head and subsequent injury during lockout

    Defense has shown signs towards the end of last season of being able to play sound, positional defense that has puck moving capabilities…and I like (John Carlson and Karl Alzner who could/should still be getting better ever year). If Mike Green can stay healthy, not be a liability on D and score some crucial goals (live up to the “game over green” nick name)

    Can they beat Boston? A lot of people counted them out of that series two years ago and Boston lost a lot of people this off season and every year Chara gets a year older.

    Can they beat the penguins? Ehh probably not in a 7 game round 1 series but the Islanders gave the Pens all they could handle in Round 1 last year

    Philly? They have plenty of their own question marks

    Detroit? Big D is going to be good, especially with Alfradson

    Other potential sleeper teams with a lot of question marks-Columbus, NYR, Islanders, Carolina, Toronto, Ottawo

  7. watermelon1 - Aug 28, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    It baffles me how people can hate ovechkin. He’s one of the few great things about the capitals.

    Hate almost all the other players who I’m not even sure should be in the nhl.

    Ovechkin pkays fast, hard, and is pretty good too!

    I understand people tired of having him forced down their throats even when they live in other markets.

    But hey… They did the same thing for Crosby and that guy just sits in front if the goal and bangs in rebounds. How is that any better?

  8. blomfeld - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    “It baffles me how people can hate Ovechkin” ? …

    Friend, last September this man was quite prepared to put the knife in ‘your’ backs … ‘you’ his very own fans ! Therefore you Capitals must now harden yourselves to that reality and find the resolve to do ‘that’ which is necessary … and you will, God willing …

  9. thecrabcakestate - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Blomfeld. I’m not positive I know what you’re talking about but if its the whole staying in Russia thing. Everyone knows that was posturing for the players. He was never going to give up the NHL

    • blomfeld - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:33 PM

      ever heard of a guy called ‘Kovi’ ?

  10. thecrabcakestate - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Yeah. I have. Just because he’s Russian doesn’t mean he’s the same person. What kovi pulled was very low btw. Doesn’t mean Ovie will follow him

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