The Washington Capitals had an amazing second half to the season last year, thanks in large part to MVP Alexander Ovechkin and coach of the year Bruce Boudreau.
Can the dynamic duo pull off another Southeast Division championship? It won't be near as easy.
Goalie Cristobal Huet left to sign a big free agent contract with Chicago, and Capitals GM George McPhee went with a bit of a stretch in signing Jose Theodore to try to jump in and continue the magic that Huet started. That, in itself, makes the Capitals a bit of a wild card.
But in what could be the weakest division in hockey and the most difficult to predict, I'm going with the Capitals to keep things moving forward.
The big reason, of course, is Ovechkin. Simply put, the 23-year-old winger is a dynamic force of skill and energy. His enthusiasm for the game is infectious, and his ability, without question, puts him among the top five players in the league. Ovechkin had 65 goals and 112 points last season to lead the NHL in both categories, and he did that while playing with two different center icemen. He started the year with Michael Nylander, but ended it with rookie Nicklas Backstrom when Nylander was sidelined by a shoulder injury.
In both cases, Ovechkin made his center a better player.
Interesting comment was left there:
Posted by Frederick Senkeeto @ 4:53 PM Sat, Sep 20, 2008
Caps have a great skill and speed up front, they could get a little more physical on defense, but they do get the puck up in a hurry.
Jose Theodore's career has basically be one year up (2002,2004,2006,2008) and one year down (2001,2003,lockout,2007) and that trend would suggest that this year would be a bad year.
I didn't follow Jise Theodore, if someone did, please leave a comment if it is true.
From Sabres blog, Sept. 21, 2008 by PeterS "Eastern Conference - Who will make the playoffs?"
Washington Capitals - My 2nd favorite team next to my beloved Sabres. I love watching Ovechkin and the boys play. Their inexperience bounced them out of the playoffs early last year, but that won’t slow them down much. Goaltending could continue to be a problem for such an offensive minded team, but I have little doubt the taste they got last year will bring them back. Playoff bound? Yes
So here’s your list - take it to the bank and see how much the teller will give you for it. My guess is its worth as much there as it is here. Two new teams from previous year, Buffalo and Tampa.
New Jersey Devils
Tampa Bay Lightning