Sunday, September 20, 2009

Looks Like It'll Be A Tough Year To Break Into the Caps Roster Even ....

It looks like it'll be a tough year to break into the Caps roster even with Fleischmann and Fehr likely to both still be out when the season opens.

Well the Washington Capitals are 2-0 in the preseason, normally that's not something you care about and if anything being the worrier, I might point out that to date it sure doesn't look like either of the top 2 forward lines have played a shift together against an opponent. Also, probably not been often that a normal defensive pairing has taken a shift together either. However last night from what I can tell looking at the statistics against the Chicago Blackhawks, it sure seems that the Hawks skated a pretty solid lineup against the Capitals. The Capitals on the other hand on seemed to skate one of their top six forwards, though to be fair, the blue line corps in front of Michal Neuvirth was composed of 5 of the likely top six defensemen on the current depth chart. Despite that fact, and the fact the Capitals started the game "sluggish" they managed to come back, win in overtime, and out shoot the Blackhawks 30 to 26. All in all a pretty good night, especially when you realize that despite what they've been doing with the lineup, through the first two pre-season games, the Capitals penalty kill unit is 10 for 10. This from a team that had the 17th "best" penalty kill unit in the NHL last season.

So what's it all mean? Well today there were a few more guys sent out of the Caps Camp and one would suspect to Hershey's camp which will open soon. That should make some room so over the next game or two the coaching staff should be able to give enough ice time to the guys on the bubble to thin the herd further and still have the final two preseason games left to let the "normal" first and second lines get enough shifts to hone their timing back to shape by opening night. However, it also means it's unlikely that many of the top six forwards will skate tonight when the Caps take on the Sabres at Verizon Center. I also wouldn't count on seeing more than four of the likely top six defensemen play tonight either. We should get to see starting goaltender Jose Theodore for at least half the game though who knows, perhaps the coaching staff will want to alternate between Varly and Neuvy for another two games before Theo takes the draws to get ready for the season opener.

One thing is for sure, the "bubble guys" aren't making it easy for the coaching staff to decide who to put where on the depth chart. Several veterans are also looking good and ready for the start of this season as well. In that regard both Pothier and Clark are looking solid. Though last night wasn't his best outing as a Cap, the first pre-season game by Pothier was solid. Clark has shown he is working hard to get his timing back, and Brooks Laich's two "post hits" last night show he is honing his "nose for the net" as the the regular season approaches. The bubble guys making an impact so far when they get on the ice seem to be: Tyler Sloan (5 blocked shots); Jay Beagle; Alexandre Giroux; Mathieu Perrault; and Kyle Wilson. I expect both Beagle and Chris Bourque to get a fair amount of ice time tonight to show what they can do. I also expect Sloan. Jurcina, Alzner and McNiel to get a fair shot of ice time on the blue line tonight as well. Up front, I wouldn't be surprised to see at least three of the top six forwards take the ice tonight, but I don't expect them to log too much more than 17:00 TOI tonight, yielding ice time in favor of letting the guys battling for the last three or four forward slots on the roster skate more.

Welcome to the preseason, post - rebuild.... Now lets all get out there and


so the team knows how glad we all are that the hockey season is near at hand.


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