The Washington Capitals are set to kick off their 48 game shortened season tomorrow night at 7:30 against division rival Tampa Bay Lightning. Besides Brooks Laich and Dmitry Orlov, the Caps enter the game relatively healthy.
To welcome back fans, the Capitals hosted a Fan Appreciation yesterday at Verizon Center. Here is more on yesterdays events. The National Hockey League has been taking out full page newspaper ads across the country in an attempt to send apologies to fans. We will begin to see this weekend the impact of the lockout. It is not just about arena attendance, but down the road, we will see if TV ratings and merchandise sales are affected. Two lockouts in 8 years is tough to swallow and the NHL will have to come up with some creative ways to make amends. It really isn't about us die hard fans, it is more about casual fans and new fans to the sport and whether they return.
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is thrilled with the new CBA and glad to have that in the past. Ted --- got an idea. How about giving fans a nice gesture and have the NHL swallow the costs of the NHL ticket! Ted tells us he never turn a profit on the Caps --- yet. Well, then, you won't miss the $60 in NHL ticket revenue. Might even get some to tune in who have refused to put any money in NHL pockets this season.
Speaking of health, remember Tom Poti. He appears to be pain free and ready to roll for this season. After a small conditioning stint with AHL Hershey, he is back in DC. More on Poti's return to the game.
Mike Vogel tells us that one of the top priorities of new coach Adam, Oates is to wake up the Washington power play. Amen! A healthy Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom are critical.
Having a healthy Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom should give the Caps’ power play a boost, as should the off-season addition of center Mike Ribeiro. Oates has also introduced some new wrinkles to the way the Caps operate when they’re a man to the good, and the team hopes that the combination of talent and tweaks can bring Washington back into the top 10 in the NHL in power play prowess this season.
Mike Harris doesn't believe in the goalie sharing system. He believes that Braden Holtby did enough last season to warrant the starting role this season.
Face it Caps. This is your best goalie, your best in years. Embrace it. Go with it. Oates said all the right things earlier in the week. Both will play. Of course they will — no keeper can play every game. His view might change with more experience, Oates said. Prior noted Holtby and Neuvirth have “both accomplished quite a bit in their short careers, but they have yet to prove themselves as bona fide No. 1 NHL goalies.”
Jim Williams interviews Caps CSN Washington announcer Joe Beninati. Beninati is looking for the return of Alex Ovechkin under new bench boss Adam Oates.
There is no doubt that Alex Ovechkin will find Oates to be a perfect coach for him. Having Ovi playing from both the left and right sides will open up a number of scoring options. He will also learn that he as a better defender he can create offense.
Speaking of Ovechkin, he has another franchise record to turn his sights on, the scoring mark of Peter Bondra during the last 48 game shortened season. Bondra scored 34 goals during that season. We are ready to count Alex!
Clayton Hunt thinks this is the year for the Caps and a Stanley Cup trip.
System News: Here is the latest Caps prospect report from the official Caps site. Congrats to Tom Kundratek for being named to the AHL All Star team. The Bears outdoor showdown with the Baby Pens at Hershey Park Stadium on January 20 will be televised locally on ABC-27 in Harrisburg. Currently, in their division, the Bears sit in third place, ten points out of second and eleven points out of first. Meanwhile, the Caps AA ECHL affiliate Reading Royals lead the ECHL with a 26-9-2-2 record and 56 points. They have a 4 point lead for the top overall spot in the ECHL.
Want more news? Link over to our friends at Japers' Rink for more headlines and clips.