Like most, I think GMGM picked up some good players this summer in forwards Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward
and Jeff Halpern
and Roman Hamrlik
on defense. I watched all of them, except Halpern, at the last pre-season game yesterday against the Chicago Blackhawks
and I liked what I saw. Brouwer and Ward bring desperately needed grit to the team and I like how they battled for the puck along the boards and how they set up plays. And, Hamrlik looked good paired with Mike Green. It's easy to see that he's faster than Scott Hannan.
After last year's epic playoff flameout, GMGM had to have a good offseason. Time will tell if those players will help the team. Regardless, huge questions remain about the Caps and their elusive quest for the Stanley Cup. And, here they are:
- Will Coach Bruce Boudreau learn how to adjust his game strategies in a seven game series to effectively compete in the playoffs?
- Will Boudreau instill discipline in his players during practice and during games? Will the country club atmosphere be replaced with more seriousness this year? Many of the players came in earlier than they did last year and in better shape, but I'm not convinced the players will listen to the same voice any better than in years past.
- Will the players police their own locker room and call out other players, when necessary?
- Will Ovie elevate his game to the next level and realize he can't do it all himself? I was pleased to see he didn't try his signature move once yesterday, the one that every defender in the NHL has figured out.
- Will Nicklas Backstrom return to form this year? This is an especially important question as the Caps are thin at experience down the middle and Stanley Cup winners are typically strong at center.
- Will the power play ever improve? Yesterday, the power play continued to look disorganized and ineffective with the Caps having to chase down pucks far too often.
- Will Mike Green stay healthy and will Boudreau please pair him with Hamrlik and not Jeff Schultz? Japer's Rink excellent post, with numerous video clips, shows why Green's partner is crucial to his health.
- Will all the Caps, yes, including Alexander Semin, play like they care and with heart on a consistent basis? Will they care enough to leave everything they've got out on the ice in April, May and June?
There are too many unanswered questions for me to get overly excited about this season. And, the important ones don't matter until April.
Changing topics....kudos to Michal Neuvirth
for a spectacular game in net yesterday. My other half, Jeff, pointed out to me that it appeared like Neuvy was anticipating where the puck was going. He was in the zone. Yes, he's now the #1B goalie because there is no way GMGM could pass up Tomas Vokoun.
Neuvirth will learn a lot from Vokoun and I like his attitude about Vokoun coming in, but I also hope Neuvy gets lots of playing time, too.
Congrats also to Mathieu Perreault
for a great pre-season with the most points of anyone on the team.
Let's go Caps!
Labels: Bruce Boudreau, Mathieu Perreault, Michal Neuvirth, NHL, Washington Capitals