The 2006-2007 NHL season starts tonight. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a little something before things get rolling.
Erin and I attended two pre-season games, the first Caps v. Bolts, the second Caps v. Hurricanes. I admit it’s difficult to gauge the tenor of the entire team by watching hockey played by guys who are simply trying to make the roster. But let’s have a go at it based on what I’ve seen on the ice so far, combined with last season’s lingering aftertaste and a few off-season antics.
Short and sweet style.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Motherfuckers better live up to their offensive potential. Tons of hot sticks on this team if they’d only shoot the goddamned puck from time to time. The younger players (Craig, Ranger et al) looked solid at season’s end, and I hope they can continue to improve and contribute. My jury is still out on the likes of Kuba and Perrin. Denis? We’ll see. A playoff spot is the Bolts’ to lose, although I doubt they’ll take the Division unless they can get the mediocrity monkey off their back.
Washington Capitals: Kolzig is still one bad-ass goalie. Too bad he’s solely responsible for defense this season. None of the blueliners have done anything worthy of mention, although Mike Green showed promise last year. Sure, a couple of goals from the D guys (esp. Clymer), but they’re supposed to play defense, get it? Offense? Zednik’s a waste of a salary. There’s a reason Beech and Fata played in the AHL last season; look for them to return at some point. Hopefully Zubrus will get (and remain) healthy so he can feed pucks to Ovechkin; look for Clark to get points on that line, too. Semin might do alright, if he can keep his head from penetrating the boards. If the “new” chemistry on the team takes off, they could battle for a playoff spot… but only if the rest of the East sucks a whole lot. They won’t be the worst team in the East, but should do better than last year if the D can get their shit together.
More hockey to come, folks. You know this.