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NHL on NBCSN: Caps fight Hawks team they could have been

Apr 11, 2014, 8:36 AM EDT

Washington Capitals v Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Washington Capitals host the Chicago Blackhawks at the Verizon Center at 7:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Capitals might want to watch the Blackhawks closely tonight because they represent what they had the potential to be, and could still become.

Both are teams that struck gold with a pair of forwards selected high in drafts in close proximity and both franchises quickly looked dangerous as a result. But while the Blackhawks were able to add key players like Marian Hossa on the free agent market, develop an enviable defense, and build a team that went far beyond Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the same can’t be said for Washington.

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The result is that Chicago can use tonight’s contest as a tuneup game in preparation for their bid to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in five years. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and the Capitals’ streak of disappointing playoff runs will come to an end courtesy of a lackluster season.

Perhaps the most obvious example of the difference between these two teams can be illustrated by the fact that Toews and Kane are both out tonight, and yet Chicago still has a great chance of beating Washington. It helps that Chicago has six players that have scored at least 19 goals while the Capitals have three. Beyond the big two in Washington, no one has reached the 50-point mark. Three players have accomplished that feat in Chicago, not including Kane and Toews.

“Before the Capitals season started, I was quoted as saying I didn’t see any weakness in our lineup,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. “While I knew some aspects of our team were stronger than others, I didn’t see anything that I believed was a specific weakness. Obviously I was wrong.”

No team is devoid of weaknesses, but his original statement in October is in some respects more suited to the Capitals’ opponents tonight than themselves.

While Washington conducts it’s “comprehensive review,” the Blackhawks will fight to earn their fifth straight victory. It won’t change their playoff seeding, but it will help them build momentum ahead of their first round series against St. Louis or Colorado.

  1. pastabelly - Apr 11, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    This whole Blackhawks are the team that the Caps could have been concept escapes me. Why aren’t the Blackhawks the team that the Hurricanes could have been?

    It doesn’t make a difference what Leonsis thinks as long as he wasn’t being lied to by his GM. Washington may have been thought of as a fringe playoff team at the start of the year, but not much more than that.

  2. bmscalise - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Except that the Hawks have Keith and Seabrook and the Caps have…Mike Green (occasionally).

    • micklethepickle - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      This. So much this!!! I was going to comment the exact same thing but you beat me to it.

      As a die hard Caps fan, I have had it with GMGM’s refusal to seek out an answer on the blue line. Mike Green has to be the most inconsistent, boneheaded defenseman in the league. No way his salary number can be justified with how many goals he gives up. For all the criticism Ovi takes for not playing defense, in the end he is on the ice to score goals and be does his job. Green’s job is to play DEFENSE, and he is utterly incompetent. With the addition of Kuznetsov, DC needs to chase after one reliable defenseman and at least 2 serviceable Dmen. Dump Green!

      All you have to do is look at the teams that are winning Cups to realize without a solid presence on the blue line, you have no shot at a Cup run. I am so tired of hearing about our offensive woes when we can’t stop the other team from putting the puck in the net at will. It isn’t rocket science to understand there are two sides of hockey, and they are not both called offense…

  3. terrier92 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    This is saying something yet this is the dumbest article I’ve seen on PHT. Gee except for lousy drafting, a GM with a vision, a team commitment to play a 200 foot game and a one dimensional superstar the Caps could be the Hawks. F minus

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