There a plenty of great things happening for the Washington Capitals right now. Take last night for instance. The Great Eight Alex Ovechkin scored number 50, making him only the third NHL player in history to score more at least 50 goals in three of his first four NHL seasons. The other two you may have heard of: Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy. If you are a forward in the NHL, you’d be hard pressed to find two better guys to be included on a list with. With a little less historical significance, that 50 is tops in the league.
Tops in the league in goals by a defensemen is Mike Green, who scored numbers 26 and 27 last night in the Capitals 5-2 victory over Tamba Bay (the 9th straight victory by the Capitals over the Bolts, by the way). This victory pushed the Caps back into the second overall position in the East.
While these are huge stories for the Capitals, the biggest story is a little bit more big picture and not quite so evident unless you’re looking for it, and that is the phenomenal job General Manager George McPhee has done building this team. The Caps are Rocking the Red this season, and as a Caps fan, I couldn’t be happier, but the real story is that this team is built to be a perennial contender; this team is built to withstand injuries and attrition.
This season, this fact has really come to the forefront. Last night, Quintin Laing became the 15th Hershey Bear to be recalled to the Big Club to fill in for an injured starter, and like the other 15, he stepped in and stepped up. Boyd Gordon is out 2-3 weeks with a broken finger, and, like we have seen time and time again, McPhee had a player waiting in the wings that played the same type of game, possesses the same skill set, and the Caps kept on rolling.
Last week, it was more of the same. Sergei Federov falls ill, and Keith Aucoin stepped in and the Caps didn’t miss a beat. Brent Johnson goes down, Simeon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth are there to pick up the pieces. This team is ripe with talent at all levels, and will be contenders for a long time to come. Its been awhile since Capitals fans could be so excited about the state of the franchise and the possibilities on the horizon. Thanks to George McPhee and Ted Leonsis, that time is now and for the foreseeable future.