The Washington Capitals are off to a good start this season but is it enough to satisfy the omnipresent urgency to win that surrounds this team. This urgency is the elephant that’s refusing to leave the room.
After closing out the first month of the season with 7 wins against 4 losses the Caps find themselves just 2 points behind the best record in the NHL, 23 of the leagues 30 teams are in their rear view mirror and still many in the hockey world raise doubts. Most pundits rank the Caps as contenders for the Cup with an asterisk and the uneven path they took during their first 11 games combined with long-term challenges add fuel to the blogosphere fire:
After losing 2 in a row to the Bruins Former player, current pundit Mike Milbury let this verbal barrage fly on WEEI’s Big Bad Blog:
There’s a team that came into this year after having them spanked last year unexpectedly in the playoffs, and the mantra was, I thought, not to become a shutdown defensive team, but at least to pay some attention to it, and have some more balance to their game. They looked like they were lacking in discipline and structure, and if I were George McPhee I’d be worried.
From local Caps blog The Peerless Prognosticator‘s looks right past the Caps 7-2 trouncing of Calgary saying this about the offense:
Don’t get the idea that the Caps’ offense is “back.” Not when seven of the 11 goals come in one game, and the power play still had trouble getting off the ground early in the week.
And this long-term view that this must be the coronation season for the Caps to be King from the Hockey News THN.com Blog:
And winning the Cup – or at least coming much closer – is paramount in Washington this season. With nine looming unrestricted free agents next summer – including mainstays Semin, Mike Knuble, Tomas Fleischmann and Brooks Laich – a changing of the guard is coming. But Boudreau and GM George McPhee are also going to be under the gun. If they can’t coach and manage this cast of characters to a deep playoff run, their jobs will be in question.
Whether these judgments after just 11 games are spot on, premature, or just wrong doesn’t seem to matter, they feed the elephant and will more than likely dog this team for the entire season. They only thing they can do to remove the asterisk thus expelling the elephant is win. This kind of scrutiny brings new meaning to keeping one’s head down and focusing on the task at hand. These Caps have the depth and talent to win it all and this season will prove if they have the grit to do it.