- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2007

OLIE”S HEALTH

 Simply put, the Caps will not make the playoffs if Olie Kolzig misses another sizable chunk of the season. Brent Johnson did play well at times last season when Kolzig was out with a knee injury, but it was clear the team in front of Johnson was not the same.

POWER SURGE

 The Caps finished last season 24th in the NHL on the power play. The “New NHL” is all about special teams, and Washington must improve with the extra man and defending against it. Having two real power-play units and more penalty killing depth should help.

YOUNG D MATURES

 While the team added three high-level veterans in Michael Nylander, Viktor Kozlov and Tom Poti, the Caps are still going to start the season with a pair of 24-year olds and a pair of 21-year olds on defense. Poti and Brian Pothier will be expected to lead, but the kids have to keep improving.

100 FROM OVECHKIN/SEMIN

 Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin combined for 84 goals last season with Dainius Zubrus and a rotating cast of characters as their centers. Both players have better passers at center (and at right wing for that matter) and should improve their goal totals. Ovechkin could make a run at the Rocket Richard trophy, and Semin eclipsing 40 wouldn”t be a surprise.

START FAST

 Ask players in St. Louis and Colorado how tough it is to make the playoffs after stumbling out of the gate. Expectations are raised in the District, and a slow start could lead to rumblings of potential changes. A fast start would help the team”s youth believe they belong.


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