Just like one of our most popular Washington Redskins feature articles, the Redskins Round table, we also bring you the Capitals Round Table. We will do the round table frequently throughout the Caps 2010/11 season. We have put together an impressive display of panelists and ask your Caps questions, and they will give you the answers.
Our Round Table panel:
- Alex Perlmutter, On Frozen Blog,
- Rob Yunich, Storming the Crease,
- Chris Johnston, The Canadian Press, Chris is the lead NHL reporter for the Canadian Press, Canada's leading news media outlet. A terrific add to the Panel. Follow Chris On Twitter.
- J.P., Japers Rink,
- Peter Hassett, Russian Machine Never Breaks,
- Michael Hoffman, DC Examiner,
- Dave Nichols, Capitals News Network, and
- Ben, Capitals Outsider, our FanSided partner.
On to the Questions. We asked 8 questions. Here they are (we had to shorten some of the panelists answers for space purposes, but gave you the meat of the answers):
1. Do you think the Washington Capitals will repeat as Southeast Division champs? Eastern Division?
- Alex: Without-a-doubt certain the Caps will finish the season as number one in the lowly division. The Caps didn't win the Eastern Conference last year, Philadelphia did. Matter of fact they didn't win anything at all. It looks as though last year will be a very similar year for the Caps, with a little more division competition.
- Rob: Yes, the Caps are the most dominant team in the division and should repeat easily as Southeast champs. And the Tampa Bay Lightning will finish 18 points behind the Caps in the division
- Chris: We might as well crown them kings of the Southeast right now. I do think the Caps will comfortably win another division title. Their closest competitor in the division will be Tampa, which is poised for improvement under the leadership of Steve Yzerman and Guy Boucher. Ultimately, I believe Washington will repeat as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They're simply too good -- and too motivated -- not to.
- J.P.: The Southeast Division should be a bit more competitive this year, but not enough that another team can legitimately be expected to threaten the Caps at the top (my bet for second? The Lightning, but the Thrashers could surprise). The Eastern Conference, however, will be a different story, not so much due to other teams improving but rather due to the Caps regressing a bit after playing at such an unsustainably high level last year. Can they still win the Conference? Sure. But it won't be easy.
- Peter: Slam dunk, shoe-in champs, but not by a margin as wide as this year.
- Michael: The Capitals will repeat as Southeast Division Champs but face stronger than expected competition from Tampa Bay, who will finish in second.
- Dave: Yes on both counts. The Caps are the class in the East.
- Ben: They will absolutely be Eastern Conference champs once again. They may have lost a few players during the offseason but no one who would make them worse off. Plus, their core group of guys are in their prime and destined for one of the best seasons of their career.
2. Regarding the goaltending situation, how do you see that working out?
- Alex: A lot will be asked of the two young goalies this season, mostly the physical brutality of the long grind towards April. Will they be able to last is the big question. I believe a shared net this season will be healthy for the goaltending situation of the team considering both guys' age and recent histories. At this point the Caps coaches are thinking Varly has more NHL and NHL playoff experience, but Neuvy has won two back-to-back Calder Cups. They're in a dead heat.
- Rob: I think both young goalies, if they can stay healthy, will split the first 70 games, with the better player taking control at that point and into the playoffs. In my mind, the top spot is Varlamov’s to lose.
- Chris: Like many teams around the NHL, the Caps don't have a true No. 1 -- at least not a permanent, unquestioned one (think Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, etc.). My guess is the youngsters will each get their fair share of starts until one clearly outplays the other.
- J.P.: I think that Bruce Boudreau will split playing time fairly evenly unless one guy unquestionably plays himself into (or out of) the number one role.
- Peter: I expect one goalie to distinguish himself and claim the uncontested #1 spot by November. The worry, however, is that the winner will be whichever of the two doesn't get injured. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Holtby gets some time in D.C. this year.
- Michael: While neither is elite yet, Varlamov and Neuvirth is a fine goaltending combo. I expect that Semyon Varlamov will be the clear #1 starter for the Caps.
- Dave: I think they will get fairly equal playing time, keeping both fresh (and hopefully healthy) and the competition will keep both focused throughout the season. I don't see Boudreau getting stuck on naming a "starter", and I honestly don't think they'll go outside the organization to acquire a veteran backup.
- Ben: Like before, Coach Bruce Boudreau will go with the hot glove. I wouldn't be surprised to see nearly a 50/50 split between Varlamov and Neuvirth.
REST OF THE ROUND TABLE --- Click CONTINUE READING
3. Regarding the final few roster spots, given the three, Mathieu Perreault, Marcus Johansson, and Cody Eakin, which if any do you see cracking the roster?
- Alex: Having seen a decent amount of rookie and development camp and the first home pre-season game against Boston, I think Perreault easily leads the pack of centers chasing the open center position. He's got much more valuable professional experience than either Mojo or Eakin. While Johansson and Semin looked good together in the first two periods of the first Boston game, Perreault looked equally fascinating while playing with Ovechkin.
- Rob: Perreault might be the second-line center when it’s all said and done. As of this writing, Eakin has been sent back to juniors, and Marcus Johansson is still on the big club (as is Perreault). But the bet here is that Johansson isn’t with the Caps for much longer.
- Chris: I honestly haven't been around the team enough to provide an educated answer. I'd only be guessing, so I'll refrain.
- J.P.: Johansson. Eakin isn't NHL ready (and can be sent back to the WHL, in which case his contract slides a year) and there's no need to rush him. Perreault can be sent back to Hershey without having to be put through waivers. And while Johansson also isn't subject to waivers, he has an out clause in his contract that lets him go back to Sweden if he doesn't make the Caps.
- Peter: Perry might be in the lead, but "MoJo" (ugg) seems to have the superior skill set. Eakin, while awesome and so pale he has magical powers, is just too young for an NHL slot right now.
- Michael: I see both Perreault and Johnansson making the roster
- Dave: Well, Eakin got sent out to Swift Current today (Sept. 30). I've said since beginning of camp that Johansson was the best player on the ice during development and rookie camp, but I don't see him breaking camp. Perrault is your third line center.
- Ben: Mathieu Perreault seems to have the best chance, but the Caps will change things up throughout the season as they did last year
4. Do you think John Carlson has a realistic shot at the Calder Trophy?
- Alex: There is no reason to believe Carlson doesn't have a shot. Right now there are a handful of players out there that will look to score at least a point per game in their first year, such as Jordan Eberle, Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall, which is a good sign for Calder glory.
- Rob: Absolutely! It might be a little bit of homerism, but he’s clearly showing that he’s a stud-in-the-making and, if the voters can get past the top two picks in this year’s draft and a few others, Carlson might find his way to the NHL Awards show in the early summer.
- Chris: This has traditionally been a difficult award for defenceman to win. While I do think Carlson will be a useful player this season, I'm guessing the Calder Trophy is more likely to go to a marquee scorer like Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. Another thing bound to work against Carlson is that fact he's part of such a good team -- meaning he likely won't get the same opportunity/attention as others do around the league.
- J.P.: While anything is possible (as this guy has shown), I think it's a long shot.
- Peter: No idea, but let's say yes just so we have something to talk about in July.
- Michael: Absolutely.
- Dave: Absolutely. He's going to have every opportunity to succeed on a high-profile team that puts goals on the board every night of the week.
- Ben: At the very best he'll be nominated, but too often this award goes to the rookie with the best offensive stats.
5. Project the stats of Alexander Ovechkin.
- Alex: 57G 60A +30 for the skipper this year sounds about right provided he doesn't get injured or suspended. He'll still lead your trigger-happy column in your fantasy league though.
- Rob: 52 goals, 60 assists, 112 points, plus-46, 87 penalty minutes
- Chris: 72 games this season...61 goals, 58 assists, 119 points
- J.P.: 57 goals, 57 assists, 114 points, +32, 82 PIMs, 445 SOG
- Peter: 61 G, 60 A, 121 P, if he can play at least 80 games. Only 60 PIMs while he fights the "reckless" label.
- Michael: Let’s say 52 goals and 56 assists for 108 points. Alex also finishes as a +41 with 91 penalty minutes.
- Dave: 66-58-124, +45, 74 PIM. His career year.
- Ben: Soup-to-nuts predictions on Capitals Outsider
6. Given the first round exit of the Capitals last season, the pressure this season will most certainly rise. Assuming you believe the Caps are a playoff lock, give your projection on how far they go this season?
- Alex: Any smart hockey person will tell you it's anyone's game or season, especially in this era. Look at the Avs last season and Columbus the year before. They blew by teams that were meant to do well like Calgary and Dallas. Last season, Detroit started poor in '09 and picked it up in 2010 to claim a playoff spot. Each conference is different when it comes to the playoffs too. While I think the Caps will go past the first round (they have to or heads will roll as they did in San Jose), I don't see them winning the Cup this year. Their goaltending is too young and their refusal to chase down a shut-down D-man (other than a failed run at Willie Mitchell) will hurt them badly (my only McPhee criticism).
- Rob: The Caps will be as good as their adherence to Coach Bruce Boudreau’s system. If they can stay on track, and chose substance over style, they can win the Stanley Cup.
- Chris: I really believe the Caps will benefit from some of the disappointment they've experienced in recent years. As a result, I expect them to do just that in 2010-11, beating San Jose in a Stanley Cup matchup of teams that have been knocking at the door.
- J.P.: Eastern Conference Champs
- Peter: See my answer to #8.
- Michael: I see the Capitals making it out of the first two rounds but losing in the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Dave: Stanley Cup Finalists. But they should contend for the title this season.
- Ben: Caps hoist the Stanley Cup.
7. Who wins the Winter Classic 2011?
- Alex: Caps
- Rob: Penguins, 3-2
- Chris: The game itself? That's anybody's guess. But the event overall? I think the fans win, especially with HBO spending a month giving us behind-the-scenes access to both organizations. I, for one, can't wait to see what they come up with.
- J.P.: NBC
- Peter: Capitals. A 5-2 dominating win. GWG by Matt Bradley. While shorthanded. Other goals by Fehr, Ovechkin, Ovechkin, and Semin in that order. Temperature will be 34 dF and overcast. I'll be wearing a white orchid in my lapel. Meet me by the docks, say the passphrase (It's the most dangerous lead in hockey), and bring the documents.
- Michael: Caps of course!
- Dave: Washington, 6-2
- Ben: Capitals over Penguins, 5-3.
8. Finally, who are you two teams in the Stanley Cup and your Stanley Cup Champ this year?
- Alex: Vancouver or San Jose and New Jersey, Pittsburgh or Washington. This is Vancouver's year unless DC gets their D-Man. If they do I have to take Washington.
- Rob: San Jose over Pittsburgh in six games
- Chris: Washington and San Jose. And the Cup is coming to D.C.
- J.P.: Caps and Canucks
- Peter: Caps vs. Sharks. Caps in six games. National news stories will report that D.C. sports fans don't know how to act during a victory parade as it will have been so long since the last one.
- Michael: I think defense and goaltending will rule the day again as I predict that the New Jersey Devils will defeat the Phoenix Coyotes to win the Stanley Cup.
- Dave: I've already predicted the Caps in the finals, so the Western Conference rep will be...the Vancouver Canucks. Again, I won't make a prediciton on the winner cause I'm superstitious.
- Ben: Caps over San Jose
We obviosuly want to take this oppoirtunity to thank our panelists for their valuable time. We look forward to hearing from them in the near future. Again, we plan to bring you many more Round tables on the 2010/11 Washington Capitals.
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