The Capitals now sit at a very, very modest 2-8-1 through their first 11 games, good enough for the worst record in the NHL. This coming from a team that’s been a President’s Trophy contender since the day Alex Ovechkin was drafted, it’s sure to stir up some interest from the media.
Caps general manager George McPhee spoke with the media today, and had this to say (via ESPN.com): “We’re disappointed with the way things have started. It’s not over. Nothing that a couple of wins won’t really help. But we’re going to make good decisions. We’re not going to do anything short-term. We’re not going to blow anything up. We like the people here.”
McPhee is right. The change must come from within. This roster is well-constructed, and the problem is, as has been stressed from Day 1, that the Capitals have not had the necessary time to gel with a new roster and (more importantly) a new head coach. At some point, the team must click, but I’m not going to say that it necessarily should be expected just yet. The Capitals have looked progressively better minus the goalie situation, and that’s all we can ask for at this point.
And, if McPhee is going to make a move, it needs to be in the net. Now I’m not saying to go after Roberto Luongo or anything incredibly drastic like that, but acquiring a proven, veteran netminder that can let the defensemen relax a little more would certainly improve the all-around play of the Capitals. Wingers will be able to play more aggressively, generating more scoring opportunities, which in turn hopefully results in more goals. More goals allow the Capitals to be more aggressive on defense, which means more turnovers, which also means more goals.
The other thing about adding a veteran goaltender would be the experience he brings. Experience is something that, at this point, Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby can only gain through icetime, but bringing in a seasoned player that’s gone through the ropes could really rub off on both of them. One of them would likely be sent down to AHL Hershey, but both are young, promising goalies, and having a productive mentor on the roster could really help either one of them tap into their potential.
The chain reaction from having a steady goaltender is incredibly noticeable, and is something that McPhee and the Capitals front office may need to strongly consider.