Something a bit different for today. The Florida Panthers take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals tonight in Washington. Rather than me giving you the same old hum drum preview (they aren’t that bad are they?), I caught up with a fellow blogger, Angie Lewis known to me as Ma Femme, who covers the Caps for The Hockey Writers and has her own site. You can follow her on Twitter as well @LadyHatTrick.
Angie and I have been chatting about Hockey and other things recently, and since the Cats are visiting Washington, I thought what the heck, let’s do something different. Plus I’m really jealous of Angie. She’s going to the Winter Classic! Good for her, as that will be quite the experience. I’m still trying to see if I can fit in her suitcase, or be a bodyguard. Or the camera guy that every “reporter” has. Oh well, maybe she’ll get me a souvenir. Maybe something like this!
Without further nonsense, the interview appears after the jump.
1) Last year Washington was eliminated in the first round of the
playoffs after winning the President’s Trophy for most points in the
NHL. In an attempt to make that loss just a memory, how much of a
distraction is the Winter classic and the HBO special going to be for
them, if at all? Do they have the mental toughness to stay on track?
The HBO special won’t be a distraction, if anything at all, to either team. I don’t think that has anything to do with last year’s failure to advance in the playoffs after winning the President’s Trophy. In regards to the President’s Trophy, the team has expressed heavy regret in not making it past the first round, and that the trophy hardly meant anything them, especially after that. That’s behind them in the sense that they can’t do anything about that.
About the HBO special, the PR team has made sure that the Road to the Winter Classic won’t do anything to distract the team. This is a pro-hockey team. The NHL has all kinds of specials on TV come playoff time, this isn’t particularly new to either team. These are already two teams who are scrutinized because they are the best teams in the league with the best players in the league (and not just Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin). Ovie was part of a GQ feature, which had hardly anything to do with him playing hockey, and Crosby has had his share of public appearances and features. So to the mental toughness as a result of the TV special, they’re pro-team, they can handle the press and media attention. They get it on NBC all the time.
The question of mental toughness can come in the form of if they want to win it badly enough, or any other factors with the game itself. I highly doubt it will come from the outside.2) Mike Green- A Norris Trophy finalist last year, but often criticized for his “lack of defence”, especially during the playoffs.
What’s your take? Is he a bonafide NHL defenceman or just an
overrated player with a ton of offensive upside?
Last year, as good as I thought he was, Green shouldn’t have won the Norris Trophy, although it is good to see that Washington players are being considered as talented after so many years of never seeing anyone represent the Caps at the awards. Nonetheless, he had issues with turnovers, and being too slow to get back and defend after making an offensive play. This year, he’s significantly improved his defense this year: He’s blocking shots, he’s getting back to the Caps’ zone faster after a rush; he’s just become smarter as a defenseman. We all forget that he’s young, and defensemen are the hardest, and take the longest, to grow to their full potential. Also on his side is a much improved Jeff Schultz, with whom he’s often paired to play. Schultz was good last year, but this year, Schultz has also gotten better, helping Green to do so as well.
In order for the Caps’ offense to produce the way it does, they need that quarterbacking defenseman, kind of like Sergei Gonchar was before on Washington (but a better version). And not just on the power play, but overall. Green does that, and it works for Washington. Now he’s become multi-dimensional, and he will get better.3) Goaltending. A playoff issue two years in a row with Jose Theodore
getting replaced each time. Neuvirth seems to be the guy right now.
Does he have what it takes to take this team on a long playoff ride?
Actually, since Neuvirth needed some rest and Semyon Varlamov has come back finally healthy, he’s been the go-to guy for the Capitals. I don’t think that goaltending was the least of Washington’s problems, except that Varlamov was getting too much work at a time. I like the idea of being able to switch in and out these two young goalies during the year and in the playoffs, or even Braden Holtby who got a little time up from the farm team, the Hershey Bears. The Caps have goaltending depth. They’re all young guys; they will grow, improve their decision-making on the ice, etc. Goaltending is not Washington’s primary issue.4) Alex Ovechkin- one of the most dynamic players and personalities of
the game both on and off the ice. Do you think his commercial’s and
other public displays are good for his image, and if yes why. If not,
why not? how does this hurt his game, if at all?
Why wouldn’t they be? Public appearances don’t hurt a player who is going to get all of the attention anyway because they back it up on the ice. I’m one who is a fan of talented guys who have charisma like Ovie and PK Subban. The NHL could use those guys anyway! The conservatives are going to try and justify it by saying these guys need to win a Cup first or that they need to do things a certain “way,” like Crosby, or just anybody who talks less. It doesn’t hurt his game. As I said before, they are pro-athletes. There is some management that is involved. Ovie’s primary concern is obviously hockey with the Capitals. He’s still producing, albeit not scoring 100 goals and shooting less, but it’s not the public appearances that is hurting his game. His style has changed a bit.5) Who wins tonight? Caps or Cats? Who gets the winner?
Caps have had a rough past two games, one on the road and one at home. If they want the win, they will get the win. As I’ve said in All We Do Is Puck, they are NHL’s biggest enigma of a team. But I say they recover from that and win 3-1 over the Panthers.
There you have it. I want to personally thank Angie for doing this. She’s a great gal, good to talk to, and while I’m still jealous of her going to the Winter Classic, I do hope she has a great time. You can also plan on hearing her on Rink Side Rants coming up soon!
Make to visit her site All We Do Is Puck. Why? I said so.
Thanks for reading. Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.
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