The fine folks over at DC Pro Sports Report asked us to participate in a pre-season roundtable, discussing the upcoming season for the Washington Capitals. We were asked a series of questions, as were a host of respected Caps bloggers.
Some of my answers got truncated for space issues on the panel, so below are my complete answers (in bold) to the panel questions. It comes off as a predictions column, so I guess I'm now on the record with all of this.
1. Do you think the Washington Capitals will repeat as Southeast Division champs? What about Eastern Conference champs? Who do you think will be closest to the Caps in the SE Division?
Yes on both counts. The Caps are the class in the East. I don't think anyone in the Southeast will be within 20 points of the Caps, so I'll say Carolina out of habit. You could really pull all their names in a hat and draw one and that would be just as good as any educated opinion.
2. Regarding the goal tending situation, how do you see that working out? Do you see the Caps starting out in a shared situation between Varlamov and Neuvirth or do you think one will be named starter and stay as starter as long as they play well?
I think they will get fairly equal playing time, keeping both fresh (and hopefully healthy) and the competition will keep both focused throughout the season. I don't see Boudreau getting stuck on naming a "starter", and I honestly don't think they'll go outside the organization to acquire a veteran backup.
3. Regarding the final few roster spots, given the three, Mathieu Perreault, Marcus Johnansson, and Cody Eakin, which if any do you see cracking the roster?
Well, Eakin got sent out to Swift Current today (Sept. 30). I've said since beginning of camp that Johansson was the best player on the ice during development and rookie camp, but I don't see him breaking camp with the team without some other player movement or injury. Perrault is your third line center. Won't be long for Johannson to be back with the big club though.
4. Do you think John Carlson has a realistic shot at the Calder Trophy?
Absolutely. He's going to have every opportunity to succeed on a high-profile team that puts goals on the board every night of the week. It helps that he seems to have a flair for the dramatic as well.
5. Project the stats of Alexander Ovechkin.
66-58-124, +45, 74 PIM. His career year.
6. Given the first round exit of the Capitals last season, the pressure this season will most certainly rise. Assuming you believe the Caps are a playoff lock, give your projection on how far they go this season?
Stanley Cup Finalists. In my opinion, only poorly-timed devestating injury could derail the Caps this season. I'm not going to predict a Cup championship because I'm superstitious like that. But they should contend for the title this season.
7. Who wins the Winter Classic 2011?
Washington, 6-2. And Caps fans, especially those that are making the trip.
8. Finally, who are you two teams in the Stanley Cup and your Stanley Cup Champ this year?
I've already predicted the Caps in the finals, so the Western Conference rep will be...the Vancouver Canucks. They are too deep and too talented and will get past Chicago and Detroit this season. What a series that would be! Again, I won't make a prediciton on the winner cause I'm superstitious, but you can probably figure out that my superstitions have nothing to do with the Canucks.