Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What we know so far

We're three games into the season, and four things already stand out.

- Bruce Boudreau is a smart hockey coach. Knowing that he was playing a team that was not strong offensively and played the trap, Boudreau removed John Erskine from the lineup and moved Sergei Fedorov to the back line. Breaking the neutral zone trap depends on quick and accurate outlet passes, and Fedorov provided them in droves last night. Because of this, the Canucks were unable to slow the pace of the game and were completely outmatched by the speed and talent of the Caps forwards.

By specifically targeting the opposing gameplan and adjusting his lineup accordingly, Boudreau was able to completely nullify the strongest weapon in the Canucks arsenal (their boring as all get out system). The Caps have had fits dealing with trapping teams in the past, but it looks like they've found a viable solution for the future.

- Alexander Semin is good. Really good. Not that this is news to anyone who was watching the last 20 or so games last year, but Semin has arrived as an elite level talent. He's much stronger on the puck than in previous years, quicker, andis an absolutely lethal finisher around the net. If he stays healthy, fifty goals should be a cinch. On every team in the East except Pittsburgh or Atlanta he'd be the team's number one scoring option. And yes, I'm including the Canadiens in that list. Who would you rather have on your team, Alex Semin or Alex Kovalev? Thought so.

- Goaltending is going to be an adventure. Goals on the first shot in back to back games? Not good. Inconsistent stickhandling and poor decision making? Also not good. The Caps need to calm their goaltenders down in a hurry. Great puck possesion performances (such as the one the team put together against the Canucks) should go a long way towards settling Theodore and Johnson down and getting them focused.

- Defense is going to be even MORE of an adventure. The Caps right now have three viable NHL calibur defensemen, and one of them is a forward. Everyone not named Poti, Green, or Fedorov has so far looked like they're in a competition to see who can play themselves out of a job first.

So, to sum things up, our coach is showing that last year was no fluke, our defense is showing that the team needs Alzner sooner than later, our goalies haven't shown us much yet, and Alexander Semin is proving that he's got what it takes to be a superstar in the league.

Oh, and as the Deuce said, Viktor Kozlov has a boo-boo.