Head coach Bruce Boudreau is not shying away from having Marcus Johansson center Alex Ovechkin on the top line, so it’s time to put the sophomore Swede under the microscope. Specifically, what can fans expect him to produce in his second season?
A 24-year-old Mike Knuble, then a promising forward prospect, played nine games for the Detroit Red Wings during the 1996-97 season.
Players who were still playing during Knuble’s first season in the NHL include Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Mark Messier, Dino Ciccarelli, Brian Leetch, Grant Fuhr, and Ron Hextall.
Just days after Knuble’s first game, Phil Collins announced that he was leaving Genesis to focus on his solo career, M.C. Hammer wasn’t yet bankrupt, and it would be months before The Daily Show debuts on Comedy Central.
I guess what I am trying to say is Knuble is old getting up there in years, but don’t tell him that.
Alex Ovechkin, who will turn 26 this year, is a special player. Indisputable. Full stop.
The Great 8 has won the Calder Memorial Trophy (best NHL rookie), the Art Ross (most points), two Harts (MVP) that beat as one, two Richards (most goals), and three Ted Lindsay Awards (best player voted by peers). He has also been named to seven NHL All-Star teams.
But that doesn’t mean he is a lock to score 50 goals ever again.
Matt Hendricks did a lot of the “dirty work” for the Capitals last season. He led Washington with 14 fights- four more than Matt Bradley and only six fewer than the entire team had during the 2009-10 season. His 169 hits were second on the team only to Alex Ovechkin.
So where does he want to improve his game? Scoring, naturally.
“I had nine goals goals my first year in the NHL with Colorado,” Matt Hendricks told Tarik El-Bashir. “I played 56 games that year. Last year, I played in 77 games and had nine goals. I need to figure out a way to get over that hump.”
Is that a “hump” or are you just happy to see me the apex of his scoring ability?
In the interview Matt Bradley seems to characterizes the Washington locker room as having a certain nonchalance, a malaise, insouciance, and probably other French words, too. Bottom line: Bradley thinks the Caps don’t care. And one player is called out by name: Alexander Semin.
But we think Sasha cares. We know Sasha cares. How do we know?
Fan-favorite Jeff Halpern, who captained the Washington Capitals during the 2005-06 season, was signed this offseason to a one-year deal for $825,000.
Last year Halpern logged the second-most shorthanded minutes (2:20) per-game among Montreal’s forwards and also finished second on the team in faceoff percentage (56.9%). His 11 goals and 26 points were his most since the lockout ended, and he is expected to center the fourth line and see time on the penalty kill.
“He got 26 points last year, which is more than we got out of that position last year,” General Manager George McPhee said when Washington signed Halpern in July. “We want players to be able to fulfill certain roles but also generate offense.”
At the risk of being sacrilegious I am here to say, please, keep your expectations low. Very low.
One day after trading Semyon Varlamov to Colorado for a first and second round pick, General Manager George McPhee got the bargain of a lifetime when Tomas Vokoun agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Finally, a veteran goalie talented enough to provide skill and stabilization in net who could help put his team over the top.
“I don’t think we anticipated being this fortunate,” McPhee said.
Spending time with Montreal, Nashville, and the Florida Panthers for the past four seasons hasn’t given Vokoun a chance at winning too often, but could the move to Washington put him in position to win the Vezina trophy, awarded to the league’s best goaltender?
As the postseason winds down, we finally have a chance to answer the questions that have plagued us all year. And one question above all others keeps us up at night:
Who exactly is Alexander Semin?
Sure, he’s a 6’2″, 205-lbs., Siberian-born forward for the Washington Capitals; that’s the straightforward answer. But he’s also a mystery — wrapped in an puzzle — and nestled in one of those 3D illusion posters where you have to lie to people about seeing the hidden sailboat. A hat-tricking firecracker on one night and a reckless penalty factory on another, we now know two Alex Semins. But how do we tell which is which?