Washington Capitals 2013-2014 NHL Season Preview and Predictions
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Arguably the best thing that happened last season for the Washington Capitals was the return of dominating play from Alexander Ovechkin. Much maligned at times, Ovechkin showed everyone he's still the superstar he's always been and that makes a world of difference in our nation's capital. Ovechkin's struggles coincided with a disastrous start under new head coach Adam Oates, but the captain and his teammates recovered to finish an incredible run with a playoff berth.
While the loss of Mike Ribeiro might not come across as a big one throughout the league, it's going to be harder to replace than some might think. Yes, Mikhail Grabovski has been brought in and he's got younger legs and potentially more upside, but replacing a point per game player is difficult no matter what. This is a club that is filled with a lot of forward depth and potential, but outside of Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom there just isn't that high end talent. Troy Brouwer is the type of player that anyone would take on their club and he should be in line for another big year, but they're going to need some consistent from players like Marcus Johansson, Martin Erat, and Mathieu Perreault.
Defensively they've got an excellent young defenseman in John Carlson and an overrated one in Mike Green. For the Capitals to be successful they need Green to really play at an elite level offensively like we've seen from him in the past. When he's on the top of his game he's dynamic, but unfortunately injuries have plagued him and his play in the defensive zone hasn't gotten any better. Karl Alzer, John Erskin, and Steve Oleksy round out a pretty group on the back end.
Braden Holtby will be a year old and should continue to progress as a true No. 1 goaltender but he might need to have a great year if his club struggles offensively this season. This team could be maddeningly inconsistent like they were last season.
Despite their being some consistency in Washington this year I just don't buy that the Capitals got any better. There's a lot of people out there that think Grabovski is going to slide right in here and replace Ribeiro but that's a pretty large assumption. This team had a great run last year but in this new divisional format I don't see things working out too well for them.