The Washington Times - August 18, 2011, 05:53PM

When the 2011-12 season stars, the Capitals are sure to feel some pressure. With this much talent and an offseason that included signing Tomas Vokoun, a deep playoff run is pretty much expected – not just around here but among hockey pundits.

That includes The Hockey News, which picked the Caps to finish first in the Eastern Conference and go on to win the Stanley Cup. That was high praise for general manager George McPhee and his dealings, but it came with some backlash, as the magazine has not had a stellar track record of recent predictions. Like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated, some fans decried the Caps Cup prediction as a curse.


“Somebody’s gotta break the curse,” veteran Mike Knuble said. “And I hope it would be us.”

Knuble went on to say he doesn’t believe – if there is any kind of curse – that it’s nearly as strong as the SI one and generally said he’s not too worried about predictions.

But the idea that the Caps should do well this season isn’t that far off.

“I think we’re an easy pick to do well. As far as win the Stanley Cup, I think it’s irrelevant when you get down to it,” Knuble said. “I think there’s always expectations with this team, and it’s good to be in the mix.”

Here’s more from my conversation with Knuble:

While some younger players have already started skating at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Knuble is still soaking up the last bit of his summer. Knuble, who makes his offseason home in Michigan, said he’ll start heading back to the D.C. area a week from Friday.

But that’s more for his kids – because sports seasons start up soon. School doesn’t start for a few weeks, and neither does Knuble’s on-ice preparation for the season.

The 39-year-old works out on dry land during the summer months, but “there’s a million other things” to do while away from the Caps.

“I used to skate a lot more when I was younger,” Knuble conceded. Now, with training camp not set to get underway until Sept. 16, he’ll get back on the ice early in September.

For now, golf is Knuble’s game. Asked about how it was progressing, Knuble laughed and said “terrible,” though he said it has been fun with his kids learning to play.

For Knuble’s response to Matt Bradley’s comments about Alexander Semin, click here.