Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Off Season Reviews Part IV

Today's contestant, (it was actually posted yesterday, but with the anniversary, I didn't want to post it), which comes from the "why do they even bother" file, is Scott Burnside of ESPN.

Once again, the masters of the obvious decry the Caps for not making big splashes in a futile attempt to make the playoffs. But since this is a full fledged conference effort, let's take a look at what was written about the one team that was actually worse than the Capitals in the Eastern Conference last year:

Pittsburgh Penguins: A year ago, everyone marveled at the retooling the Penguins had done after winning the Sidney Crosby lottery. But all those big names -- Zigmund Palffy, Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Sergei Gonchar and Jocelyn Thibault -- added up to a hill of ashes for the moribund franchise. Gone is the architect of that mess, Craig Patrick, and his successor, Ray Shero, has taken the alternative approach to team building.
Apart from returning Recchi to the fold (apparently Recchi and Crosby have made up after a midseason spat), the Penguins appear content to let their sparkling core of young players lead them where it will. Crosby remains the centerpiece of that future, but one of the big stories of the summer was the cloak-and-dagger departure of Evgeni Malkin from Russia. The Penguins hope to have him in their lineup opening night, and if they do, it might be the best one-two combinations in the NHL since youngsters Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg lit it up in Quebec and Colorado.

That's right. Nothing about "gee, why don't the Penguins want to make the playoffs?" The Penguins did nothing to address their defensive shortcomings. The Caps at least signed Brian Potheir who will at least help the power play, (we hope). The "sparkling core" of the Penguins not only were the 2nd worst team in the NHL last year, they also couldn't pull off any AHL playoff success. The Caps affiliate the Hershey Bears took care of them and won the Calder Cup.

But then again, it is ESPN, what do we expect? They can't even get the name of our arena right.


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