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07-11-2011, 01:58 PM
We're Touched
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 16,814
vCash: 500
Matt Bradley: 6'3"
Boyd Gordon: 6'0"
Eric Fehr: 6'4"
Jason Arnott: 6'5"
Marco Sturm: 6'0"

Joel Ward: 6'1"
Troy Brouwer: 6'2"
Jeff Halpern: 6'0"
Mattias Sjogren: 6'2"

Up front, we got rid of some big bodies for some slightly smaller (but by no means small) bodies. The difference is that, aside of Arnott and Bradley, none of those big guys really played like they were big guys. And Arnott was inching closer to the door (if NJ or his play in the playoffs was any indication, I highly doubt he could have kept up a high level of play all year with us). Bradley was a quality guy and I love him, but Hendricks and Brouwer made him more than expendable, nor did I really think he could be a driving physical force on a cup winner. The guys we brought in use their size a lot more than the guys we sent packing.

I feel more confident about this team than I did at the end of the season. We haven't been "tough to play against" since the days of Konowalchuk. This team is more assertive than it was last year. Ovechkin, and arguably Chimera, were really the only players on the roster last year who would attempt to assert their will on the ice, both with and without the puck. Guys like Semin, Green, and Backstrom found holes in the opponent and exploited them, but they didn't control the opponents' play on both ends of the ice. They play a reactive and opportunistic game. We had too many players like that, and now we have some more that play a tenacious and pro-active game, that try and control the play all over the ice.

But my confidence has limits. We still lack a proven 2C and our center depth is non-existant. If Laich ends up back on the wing or a center gets hurt, who is our 3C? Sjogren? Eakin? Halpern? Hendricks? Beagle? All acceptable options for a stretch of games in the regular season, but right now I wouldn't be comfortable with any of them in that role when the games matter. God forbid our centers suffer a rash of injuries similar to our PMD last season.

And we have negative cap space. We're cap compliant given LTIR, but we don't bank any space that way, so the only players we can add at the deadline are more injury replacements.

Our powerplay is still a mystery. Hamrlik gives us another option at the left point should Boudreau move Ovechkin and Brouwer another option in front of the net, but I don't think any of us really questioned whether we had the pieces needed for a succesful powerplay in the past. We just need to find a system to allow it to flourish and adjustments to keep it flourishing. That's on the coach more than the personnel.

We have hungry vets in Vokoun, Hamrlik, and Halpern. We have cup winners in Knuble and Brouwer. We kept Laich around. Hopefully there are enough leaders in the room to keep everyone motivated and hungry, and to offset any truths to the common perception of Boudreau.

This is the most well rounded the Ovechkin Capitals have ever been. But every team has warts. We just have to hope ours are less grotesque than the rest of the league's.

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