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Ovechkin, Backstrom and MoJo could lead the Caps back to the top of the heap in the Southeast
Offensively, the Caps match up with any of the other teams in the Southeast division. When you have someone by the name of Alexander Ovechkin playing for you, you can pretty much match offensive firepower with the best of them.
Yes, we all know that Ovi’s numbers have been down the past couple of years.
But on any given night, he can still pull out all the stops and show why he is one of the five best players on the planet. There is a lot of pressure on Ovi this season to silence his critics and to show the world that, in fact, he can lead the Caps to a Stanley Cup championship.
But the Caps have not been a one man show for the past two seasons. As Ovechkin's numbers have declined, his teammates have had to learn to adapt and, to a greater extent, step up and produce.
This is what makes the Caps a formidable offensive threat.
They have playmakers and they have depth. No, they are not as loaded as some teams are as to either factor. But they have enough of both to enable them to still be considered one of the best offensive teams in the Southeast.
If you are looking for playmakers, look no further than Nicklas Backstrom. As we saw last season, when Backstrom missed 40 games due to injury, the Caps are not the same team without Backstrom in the lineup.
Or how about Jason Chimera, who plays a brand of hockey that is entertaining, energetic and contagious. Oh, and he had his best season ever last year by scoring 20 goals and logging 19 assists.
As for depth, the Caps may have solved part of their deficiencies in this area by their acquisition of Mike Ribeiro. The hope is that Ribeiro will be able to step in and and be the second line center the Caps have been searching for the past three years.
If Ribeiro succeeds here, then it creates all sorts of possibilities and flexibility for players like Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson, Mathieu Perreault, Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Jason Chimera.
It is very easy to look at the additions the Hurricanes made, particularly with Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, and just declare them the best offensive team in the Southeast.
Or you can look at the potent Lightning squad with players like Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone and Vincent Lecavalier, and easily think the Caps are a notch below them.
But consider this: The Caps ranked 14th in the NHL a year ago in goals scored (218)—and this was with Dale Hunter behind the bench, Backstrom on the shelf for 40 games, Ovechkin struggling and Alexander Semin also having a rough go of it.
Bring in Adam Oates, a refocused Ovechkin, a healthy Backstrom and Ribeiro, in the last year of his contract, and it is not ludicrous to suggest that the Caps could increase their goal production by at least 25 goals.
That would give them 243 and would have tied them for fourth in the NHL a season ago.
It might take an effort like that for the Caps to win the Southeast—but they have all the pieces in place to pull it off.