Wednesday, May 27, 2009

2008-2009 Caps Season Wrap-Up, Part I

Ok folks, we've put the guitar controller down for now and are now turning our attention to reviewing and wrapping up the 2008-2009 Washington Capitals season. And as we picked through the debris of a season brought to a crashing halt and put back together the wreckage of a season ended too soon for many, we've come to a few conclusions;

#1. Things are not as bad as they seem. Folks, we never drank the Kool-Aid that the Caps were Stanley Cup contenders this season. We knew that the Caps were not going to win the Cup so that meant that the Caps would likely lose in the playoffs. We really wish it hadn't been to the Penguin Scum but somebody had to end our season. Last year we felt that this would be the season that the Caps broke through and made the playoffs. The Caps surprised everybody and crashed the NHL Post-Season last year and while they only lasted one round, they were expected to do better this season and they did. They posted seven more victories in the regular season for 14 more points in the standings. The Caps wrapped up a playoff spot and the division title early and held the #2 seed in the East, #4 overall. The Caps also got into the Second round for the first time since 1998. That is nothing to sneeze at while they also lit the town on fire hungry for a winner.

But that's not all folks because:

#2. Better days are ahead. The players who are easily defined as "the core"; A.O., Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander "Slappy" Semin, and Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green are 23, 21, 25, and 23 respectively. That means they can and should get even better than they are right now. If you happen to be in Darwin's Waiting Room for some reason, ignore the bozos who claim that their primes are being wasted. These guys haven't entered their primes yet which is what makes this so scary. Furthermore, when you look at the list of injuries, you should realize just how good this team really is and like us, can only imagine what this team could have done at full strength. Because with a hurt Green and A.O. the entire time, they came back from a 3-1 deficit to win in the first round and took the Penguin Scum to the distance before finally running completely out of gas.

However:

#3. There is still a lot of work to be done. We don't envy the job of General Manager George McPhee in not only trying to keep this team together, but to also find upgrades and improvements with little room under the salary cap and not much more room coming this season and the very real possibility of even less room in 2010-2011. We should also note that the Caps have not yet acquired the hard-hitting stay-at-home defenseman that they've needed since trading Brendan Witt. Furthermore, the scoring right winger to play alongside A.O. is still missing as well. John Carlson may be the defenseman we've been looking for but he isn't expected to be here full time until 2010-2011. Who the right winger will be is anybodies guess and would be our focus with the 24th pick in the upcoming draft. Finally, while the core is young, they also need maturity. That will come with time but until these players are no longer concerned with how they will celebrate their goals or what their hairstyles are going to be, they will lack the maturity that they need in order to be successful. We're not saying that these guys can't have fun. We want them to have fun, but we want them to focus on the game more than style points.

So folks, over the next few days we'll go through the lineup and assign some grades. Some guys will get different grades for the regular season and playoffs while some will get only one grade. We'll let you know which is which.

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