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05-14-2012, 09:05 AM
Three Bananas
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Originally Posted by ponder View Post
In 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11 they were one of the truly elite teams in the league. Never made it past the 2nd round, but they were a great team regardless, with regular season finishes of 2nd in the east in 08/09, 1st in the entire league in 09/10 (with an 8 point lead on the west-leading Sharks, and a ridiculous 18 point lead on 2nd in the east), and 1st in the east in 10/11. Over these 3 seasons combined they had more points in the regular season than any other team in the league. Ovechkin was a legit superstar who scored 50-65 goals in each of those seasons, they were electric offensively, and people felt like they were so good/talented that it was just a matter of time before they won a cup, or at least made it to the finals.

This season Ovechkin looked way more "mortal" than ever before, and the team was pretty "meh," finishing 7th in the east, losing the division to the Panters, and just barely squeaking into the playoffs (0 points ahead of 8th, 3 points ahead of 9th). They are currently a worse team by far than they were in 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11. Now, that's not to say the future is dark for them, they have plenty to get excited about:
- Holtby is 22, and could mature into a really good goalie
- On d they've got plenty of youth - Orlov is 20, Carlson 22, Alzner 23, and even Mike Green is just 26
- Plenty of young forwards too - Mojo is 21, Backstom 24, and Ovy 26. Other young roster forwards include Eakin (20) and Perreault (24). Kuznetsov is a great prospect if he comes over, and Galiev isn't a bad prospect either

They've also got the 11th and 16th overall picks in the 2012 NHL draft. Plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future, but this season specifically was clearly a MAJOR downturn for the team, not a positive at all, more of a HUGE step back. If Semin leaves as a UFA, and Kuznetsov stays in Russia, then this poor year could become a trend.

I personally think that trying to turn the Caps into a grinding team is a bad call. You can play a high octane, highly skilled, offensively aggressive style and still win cups, or at least make it to the finals. Most teams that have either won cups or made it to the finals recently have been among the highest scoring teams in the league, and have emphasized a skilled offensive game. The only team to make it to the cup finals without being top 6 (or at least tied for 6th) in regular season goals for is the Edmonton Oilers in 05/06, every other team that has made it to the finals since the lockout has been an offensive powerhouse in said season(s) (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Philly, Ottawa, Vancouver, Carolina and Anaheim).

The ideal coach for the Caps would be someone who knows how to coach a high octane offensive system while ALSO instilling some discipline. Boudreau had the offense down, I think he's a great hockey mind, but he didn't have the personality to command the respect of his players, he lost the team emotionally. They need someone who understands offense like Boudreau, who is also a strong leader that can force players to play hard and responsibly. I'm talking about a coach like Mike Babcock, Dan Bylsma (Philly series aside, he normally has them playing fast paced offense AND great defense), Claude Julien, Paul MacLean, etc. Going to a pure grinding system ignores the greatest strength of the Caps' core, which is explosive offense. The system/coaching should adjust to the roster/core, not the other way around.
I'm in agreeming with your point of view. As for the name mentioned, Bylsma is overrated(I still think Therrien did the heavy workload) and Julien plays the same style as Dale Hunter, very disciplined and very defensive. I agree with Maclean though, I love everything about him. He let his guys express themselves. They play hard in every zones, they are skilled and gritty. I don't know what he does but it's magic. (I think the Rangers got lucky)

I have to say I miss the high flying scary talented Caps. I hated them when the Habs played them because mainly the Habs couldn't keep up most of the time. But dammit they played great hockey. In my opinion changing the Caps was a bad thing for the entire league.

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