That is how you do it! The Washington Capitals have done the unthinkable: playing two smart games back to back.
Who better to get us started that Andrew Gordon? His goal-crashing shot off a speedy Marcus Johansson pass was the night’s first goal and the first of Andrew’s NHL career. (We knew you could do it!) The Devils responded with a Patrik Elias whizzer from above the circles, expertly screened by former Cap Danius Zubrus. Hershey’s own Jay Beagle returned fire with a chip-in up close. On a breakaway. Jason Chimera brushed off a hook and converted. Alex Ovechkin pulled an honest-to-goodness statue-of-liberty play with John Carlson, who launched a neutrino puck into Marty Brodeur’s net. Finally, Mike Knuble gingerly diverted a Tom Poti shot for the free wings. Caps beat Devils 5-1.
Washington Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz signed a four-year, $11-million extension on Wednesday, thereby avoiding salary arbitration. So it seems GMGM was not being coy when he said, “We probably won’t make any changes to our defense. We’ve got seven guys ready to go.”
Sorry. You probably wanted a more well known name for the Caps’ blueline. Someone like Michalek. Or Volchenkov. Or maybe even Hamhuis.
Me too. But not at the expense of Jeff Schultz, who, at 24-years old, was the first blueliner to lead the NHL in plus/minus since 2005-06, when the New York Rangers’ Michal Rozsival and the Ottawa Senators’ Wade Redden tied for the lead at plus-35.
Mike Green needs help (Rick Stewart/Getty Images).
This week, the Caps free agent picture became clearer as the organization announced they will not be renewing the contracts of defenseman Joe Corvo and forwards Brendan Morrison and Scott Walker, and Tarik El-Bashir reported that José Theodore‘s tenure with the Washington Capitals may be over.
All this leads to more speculation as to what the roster will look like next year. ESPN and the writers of Puck Prospectus have addressed the offseason needs for all 30 NHL teams and surprised no one by stating that the Caps need a shutdown guy on defense.
The Bruins signed defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to a four-year contract extension, taking off a likely target unrestricted free agent acquisition during the offseason and leaving only a few top four shutdown defensemen left in the UFA pool.
The Caps need as close to a sure thing as you can get. They can’t afford to let age (Sergei Gonchar) or injuries (Paul Martin, Willie Mitchell, and Mark Eaton) detract from the production of their top four defensemen during next year’s inevitable Cup run.
With Tarik El-Bashir reporting “the team does not, in fact, plan to pursue the Ottawa blue liner [Volchenkov],” that leaves just two defensemen that can fill a Top 4 spot. And more specifically, the top pairing with Mike Green:
Ever since the Capitals were ousted in the first round, there has been no shortage of reasons why- ranging from “stars” like Semin & Green letting them down to Peter prematurely shaving his beard despite us HAVING A PACT. But I am not bitter. Instead, we look towards the future, which looks bright:
- Nicklas Backstrom signed a long-term extension, ensuring we will see dozens (nay hundreds!) of Backstrom-to-Ovechkin goals over the next decade.
- The Habs proved to be legit, knocking out Crysby and the Pens in the 2nd round and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals before being ousted by Philadelphia.
- Neil Greenberg managed to go to a series-clinching game up in Hershey and didn’t jinx it.
So the focus is now on the rumors surrounding how the Caps will look to prevent a repeat of 2009-10, and it starts with a simple real estate transaction: Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov has put his Ottawa house up for sale.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.