Monday, April 7, 2008

An addendum

Last year, I wrote this post on why the Caps would make the playoffs this year (and win a playoff series). There were a couple misfires (Dainius Zubrus isn't going anywhere? Really?) but for the most part it was pretty much on target. And although the focus lately has been on the Caps trade deadline acquisitions, this team would never have made the playoffs without one major addition made during the offseason:



That's right, folks. Tom Poti is the unsung hero of this Capitals team.

Now I know Poti's offensive numbers this season are nothing to write home about. In fact, his two goals this season tied his career low set in 2001-2002. But make no mistake, Tom Poti is the reason this team has a chance to compete for the Cup this year.

Without Poti, the Caps would have had no veteran leadership after Brian Pothier went down with a cuncussion. Without Poti (second overall in ice time per game, first among defensemen in time on the penalty kill) this defense would have lacked an anchor to hold the D together in tough spots. Poti has been by far the slickest defensive player on the ice, always making the right decision and making it quickly.

I can't say how many times I've turned to the Deuce during a game and said "You know who's a smart hockey player? Tom Poti." He could always be trusted to make the best play available without forcing the issue.

With a player with such a high hockey IQ on the backline, the Capitals knew that one side of the ice would always be taken care of as long as Poti was on the ice. That's exactly the kind of confidence that was missing from the team's defense last year.

So while we rightly celebrate the incredible ability of the Russian Machine, or the lightning-quick maturation of uber-rookie Nicklas Backstrom, or the great crunch time acquisitions of Huet, Fedorov, and Cooke, remember first that one summer day where the Caps signed the rock on which their young defense would be built. Remember July 1st as the day this playoff team was born.

19 comments:

DCSportsChick said...

I agree with you. I don't think Poti gets nearly enough credit. He's exactly what the team needs- a good, solid defenseman who knows his role and plays it well (especially considering the Caps have guys like Erskine out there).

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