We received an email from Pat, who runs Brooks Laich Year, asking us to answer and return a set of Bruins/Caps related questions. Obviously, we’re down because we enjoy bantering with the enemy. Here are the questions we asked Pat and his answers (duh). You can view our answer over at his blog: Brooks Laich Year.
1. What were your expectations of the Capitals going into the season?
Going into the season, my expectations were really high. We had been a legitimate contender for a few years and our moves over the summer did nothing to change that. Troy Brouwer seemed like he would be a great fit on the first line. Both he and Joel Ward gave our forwards a bigger and “sandpaper” type feel that we have seemed to lack at times. Roman Hamrlik blocks shots and would bring a calming veteran presence to our young blueline. AND WE SIGNED TOMAS FREAKING VOKOUN TO A $1.5 MILLION DEAL! I really thought the Vokoun move might be the move that put us over the top this year. None of these moves, to varying degrees, have worked out as planned. In fact, all but Brouwer have been disappointments thus far.
2. Based on those expectations, how would you rate the 2011-2012 season?
Well, as Caps fans we know better than most to not rate a season until the playoffs are over, but so far the season the season has been full of turmoil and disappointments. We fired a coach and hired another one who has failed to make any sort of noticeable difference (some Caps fans would argue the team has regressed even further under Hunter). In recent seasons, we have generally all but locked up a playoff spot by February and, as you know, this year we didn’t clinch until game 81. Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green both missed significant time due to injuries. I could go on and on as to why this season has caused many Caps fans stomach ulcers, but the final evaluation won’t come until we see what we do in the playoffs.
3. Should Alexander Ovechkin sue Geico for using his caveman likeness but not paying him for it?
I don’t believe the caveman has a tramp stamp, so probably not.
4. When will Mike Green learn how to be a defenseman?
I think most Caps fans are asking when Mike Green will learn to play offense again. He has become a pretty steadying influence on the blueline and the attacks on his defense were always more of an overplayed narrative than actual fact. Green has missed a ton of hockey over the past two seasons due to injury and we’re still waiting for him to become a game changer again. He has been fine, and sometimes good, but not the force we need him to be. Defensively, we have a much bigger liability who you know well. His name rhymes with Menace Tideman.
5. Alexander Ovechkin. Brooks Laich. Alexander Semin. Go to a brodeo with one, kill one, extort one. GO!
Brodeo goes to Alex Semin, hands down, because I think he’d bit a bit of a wild card. You know you’d have a blast with Laich or Ovechkin, but I’m not sure what you’d get with Semin. I’d extort Ovechkin since he makes the most money. So by default I guess that means Laich is the one who gets the ax, but Brooks Laich has continually shown us, with his healing powers and ability to play through injuries, that he is made of steel, so I’m not even sure he’s human.
6. Name an “Off of the radar” player that will frustrate the Bruins and why will they?
Jay Beagle. He is one player that has really thrived under Hunter. He has gone from a guy on the NHL-AHL bubble to centering our shutdown line and playing over 15 minutes a game. He will frustrate your top offensive players, go to the dirty areas on the ice and he can get chippy when he needs to be. He even started to show signs of offensive life over the final month of the season. All 4 of his goals came over the last 17 games of the season. I expect at least one timely, dirty goal out of him in this series.
7. How far does Washington go in the playoffs?
Well, Caps fans know better than anyone that being the favorite doesn’t mean anything come playoff time. That being said, my expectations are as low as they’ve been since the first season Boudreau took over behind the bench and led us to the playoffs. I have not seen anyone pick the Caps to even make it out of the first round. However, I also didn’t see anyone pick Montreal or Tampa to beat us the last two years. If someone stabilizes our wounded goalie situation (Vokoun, please!), and Backstrom and Green can show a return to form, this team has the potential to surprise some people.