Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Caps or Bears...who are you rooting for?

A friend of mine asked me last night if I was rooting for the Caps to make the playoffs.  My response was yeah, I am.  But if they don't make it, it won't bother me at all.  I am honestly split 50/50 on it.  Yes, I hope they win their last 2 games and get in as the 8 seed.  At the same time, if they don't make it, I will be happy that the 'Bears' players on the team will be returning to Hershey for a Calder Cup run.

He felt differently.  While he isn't actively rooting against the Caps, he sure as hell isn't rooting for them either.  And I am guessing there are many in Bears nation who feel the same way.  And with good reason.  Should the Caps miss the playoffs the Bears team would get immediately better with the additions of Keith Aucoin, Dmitry Orlov, Cody Eakin, and Braden Holtby. 

Obviously, considering the injuries in Hershey right now, an influx in talent like that could be a difference maker.  Especially when you are likely facing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the first round.

Now, he also said to me that if he felt the Caps had a legitimate chance at the Cup he might feel differently, but in his opinion they are basically playing for an early exit. 

This is where I guess him and I disagree the most.  Despite their uninspired play at regular intervals during the season, including as recently as Monday in Tampa, I believe that they have as good a chance at the Stanley Cup as any other team in the league. 

Is that crazy?  Probably.  But with a healthy Nicklas Backstrom this team is mostly the version that the Capitals envisioned when they put it together last summer.  And remember, this team was healthy at the beginning of the year as well...and they went 7-0 to open the season. 

But let's forget about that for a second.  Obviously I am a nut-job if I think the Caps have as good a chance at the Stanley Cup as the Flyers or Penguins or Rangers.  Obviously.

So, the question is...what are the Bears chances at winning the Calder Cup?

Healthy?  Pretty damn good. 

Current state?   Not likely.

That means that if the Caps are eliminated the Bears chances would skyrocket...right?

I don't think so.  The Bears need to be healthy to compete with the top teams in the league.  Jacob Micflikier, Graham Mink, Christian Hanson, and Patrick McNeill are all injured and are either barely practicing (Mink and McNeill), not practicing (Micflikier), or OUT for at least the rest of the regular season (Hanson). 

Add to that list Boyd Kane, DJ King, and Ryan Potulny who sat out practice on Tuesday for a 'maintenance day'.  Nothing to be alarmed about, but when guys start missing any practice time you start to worry a little.

Will adding Aucoin, Eakin, Orlov, and Holtby really make up for all the other injuries? 

I don't think so.  Yes, getting a healthy Aucoin (still #4 in the league in scoring, 2nd in assists) would be huge.  But would it make the Bears better than Norfolk?  A team that hasn't lost since February 4?  Doubtful. 

Who knows what Orlov will be like in Hershey.  I am sure he will play hard, but he hasn't been a Bear since before Thanksgiving.  Will his return cause more issues on the blueline then help?

Eakin is a stud and definitely makes the team better...but he isn't going to win games on his own. 

And Holtby...let's just say there are still huge questions about his playoff ability.  He has played 9 playoff games and his goals against average is well above 3.00 and his save percentage is well below .900.  And he wasn't exactly setting the league on fire before his recall to Washington. 

So, yes.  If the Caps miss the playoffs the Bears would be in better shape.  But unless they get the rest of their players back from injury, they aren't legitimate title contenders. 

So...again...I am rooting for the Caps to win their last two...but I won't be disappointed if they fail to show up in those games too.

How about you, are you rooting for the Caps to win or to do what they have been doing for most of the season, fall flat on their faces?


Anonymous said...

I root for the Caps, but not as much as I do for the Bears. With that being said, I'd much rather see Calder Cup #12 in Hershey, than a Stanley Cup in Washington. Also, I'd love to have Coiner, Orlov, and Eakin back for the playoff push, but I'd much rather ride Sabs through the playoffs then Holtby. Overall, his performance in Hershey has been uninspired since he was called up and lit the NHL on fire, last year.

Anonymous said...

I think history suggests that players like Orlov, Eakin, and Holtby are not going to make a difference. These are players that are more likely than not to be in the NHL next year (maybe not Holtby) and have spent most of, or a good part of, this year in Washington (particularly Orlov). After the emotion and heart ache of getting knocked out of the playoffs, or barely missing the playoffs, these players aren't invested in making a Calder Cup run. Does anyone remember Jamie Benn making a huge impact for the Texas Stars a few years ago?

GM said...

I question whether or not Braden's performance is more 'uninspired' or just more tailor-made for the NHL. Just because a guy doesn't light up the AHL doesn't mean he can't make in the NHL. And just because a guy does light up the AHL, doesn't mean he can do it in the NHL.

Offenses and defenses play at a different level and different pace in the NHL. Maybe Braden's game fits better there.

I don't know.

As for Jamie Benn....your kidding right? Yes, he didn't do much against the Bears but he scored 14 goals and added 12 assists in 24 playoff games. The Bears just figured out how to shut him down.

I basically said the same thing about Eakin and Orlov in the post so I agree...but that doesn't mean that guys can't make a difference.

I don't think either Orlov or Eakin will be the difference between a Calder Cup or first round exit...but I think both would ultimately help the cause.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think that Orlov and Aucoin are coming back to Hershey after all that time in Washington?
And just a call-up to the Caps seems to have given some of the guys a huge ego and attitude. I think our current team needs to get healthy and we need Holtby back as a backup for Sabs. Eakin works hard, too!
My concern is these last minute college signings that are being paired up with our oft-injured, aging veterans. How about some Starbucks between periods?

GM said...

Both Orlov and Aucoin are on the Bears clear day roster so yes I suspect that if/when the Capitals are eliminated from the postseason, both players will be reporting to Hershey. And I can assure you that both will come ready to play.

I am not sure what you referring to as far as attitude and ego. Any professional athlete has a bit of that already, even at this level. Some players surely handle success and failure differently that others, but who is to say which way is right or wrong. All of the players currently on recall to Washington have done this before and are fully aware that they will be returning to Hershey once the Caps season ends. And I am sure all of them will be fine with that.

As for the college signings...those players will turn into practice players once the injured players return. This happens every year although usually it is junior-eligible players (think Eakin, Mitchell, Orlov) in recent years that make an appearance.

But having extra bodies for practices in the playoffs is a huge advantage as it allows the regulars time to rest as well as provides a tactical purpose in preparation.