Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Year in the Life

The Caps now have one full year’s worth of games in the books under Bruce Boudreau, and what an 82-games it has been. This is not a look at Boudreau’s record compared to that of any of his his predecessors. In a sense, it is a “State of the Caps” reflection. And what the Caps have become is a very good team. Here are the particulars over the last 82 games:

The team record is impressive enough, but some of the individual records are amazing. If you look at the Caps that have dressed this year and include the 61 games from last year, their 82-game totals look like this:

Some of the things that stand out…

- Yes, Alex Ovechkin can score, but +40?.

- Despite a slow start this year, Nicklas Backstrom is pretty much a point-a-game player…at 21.

- Mike Green looks more like the top offensive defenseman in the league, and that plus-24 doesn’t look bad, either.

- Tied with Green for third in goal scoring…Brooks Laich. Caps fans have made him something of a cult hero…but, bet there isn’t another fan base in the NHL that could pick him out of a lineup. Let’s keep it that way.

- Tom Poti’s plus-minus would have tied for his best season’s worth in his career.

- All of a sudden, Tomas Fleischmann looks like a contributing NHL player.

- Boyd Gordon and David Steckel – pretty much pigeon-holed as defensive/faceoff specialists – don’t need much of a push to get to being double-digit goal scorers, too.

- 17 players with double-digit point totals is pretty good balance.

- The 3.16 goals-per-game would have led the NHL last year.

- If Alexander Semin is healthy, he looks like a 40-goal kind of scorer.

- Were you thinking of Jeff Schultz as a 20-point defenseman?

- Keep in mind that Michael Nylander and Sergei Fedorov have fewer than half a season’s worth of games here. At their pace, the Caps might have a roster of six 50-point players…seven if Viktor Kozlov had found a spare point somewhere.

A winning streak here or a tough road trip there is one thing, but this is now a body of work. It shows the Caps to be a very good team – a contender, in fact. One might not call them a favorite right now, one need only look at the way they struggled against San Jose to see that. But there are 61 games left in this season to take the same kinds of steps they took last year. Last year, it was moving up from struggling also ran to playoff team. This year, it could be taking the leap from playoff contender to Cup contender. Some tweaking of the roster might be in order to get there (the Caps could use some more grit in their game, for example), but the pieces are largely in place.


Flying Cloud said...

Thanks for this important perspective, and the equally valuable analysis posted earlier. You never sleep.

Anonymous said...

again why is clark on this team still and playing more than fehr? we seemed to do fine without his off ice skills last year and i think the team will do fine now.