Are the Washington Caps Stanley Cup Ready?
When I look at what the Caps did this off season I'm reminded of the Pittsburgh Penguins of last season. On paper it appears they got worse losing Merrian Hossa and other key figures in their run but it ultimately made for a better team.

Sergei FedorovThe Caps lost several key figures like Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov and Fedorov's lockeroom presence will be missed. Kozlov was a very productive center-winger but at 6'5 235 pounds you expected him to have more of a consistent impact in front of the net. To his credit Kozlov was the best Caps winger in the corners due to his reach and uncanny puck handling skills for a guy so big. 

Brendan MorrisonBrendan Morrison was a very productive ironman in Vancouver prior to some injury riddled stints in Anaheim and Dallas. If he is healthy Morrison is gonna fit right in with the Caps up tempo style. Not to mention he will center for the Caps most talented player in Alexander Semin. Semin is the guy to watch this year for the biggest leap in numbers. The Caps could very well have two fifty goal scorers both named Alex.

Mike KnubleOne of the biggest problems with the Caps last year is they did not have a consistent net presence. Mike Knuble is a very nice fit in Washington and not only will he pay immediate dividends from playing on the Ovechkin - Backstrom line but he will be an on ice example to some of the younger-bigger Caps like Eric Fehr and Brooks Laich.  With the additions of guys like Knuble and Morrison along with the full time return of Captain, Chris Clark the Caps upgraded and added some much needed grit to their top six forwards.

Mike GreenThe Caps Blueliners have been together for a while and they start with Norris Trophy Candidate Mike Green. Lost in all of Green's offensive prowess was the fact that he put up formidable defensive numbers. The biggest plus going into this season has to be the full time return of Brian Pothier. Pothier is an experienced two-way player that can keep the offensive pressure on opponents while Mike green gets a breather. Guys like Jeff Shultz, Milan Jurcina and John Erskine need to step up and become the crease clearing, tough checking defensemen they were brought here to be. The hiring of Assistant Coach, Bob Woods should improve the Defense because a lot of the Caps young defensemen won AHL Cups under his tutelage.

Simeon VarlamovThe Caps have an embarrassment of riches in net. Veteran net minder Jose Theodore who had an excellent regular season last year will start the season as the number one goalie but the Caps have two ultra talented young goalies waiting in the wings. Semyon Varlamov is easily the most physically talented of the bunch and his performance saved the Caps from a first round exit. Michal Neuvirth may be the most technically proficient. Neuvirth is the quintessential boring goalie because he is alway in excellent position and his maturity for a young goalie is off the charts. Do not be surprised if the Caps go with the two young goalies if Theodore stumbles. Oh, By the way, now the Caps have a young kid in Hershey Braden Holtby that is shutting down opponents in the second best hockey league in the world (AHL).

Overall the Caps improved at forward, defensively and net minding but the question will be did they improve enough to come out of the Eastern Conference on top. Only time will tell.

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