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Tag:Joel Ward
Posted on: January 18, 2012 1:03 pm
 

Capitals prepare to face Rene Bourque

By: Adam Gretz

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom hasn't appeared in a game for the team since he was elbowed in the head by then-Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque earlier this month. It was a play that resulted in Bourque earning a five-game suspension from the NHL, and had some of the Capitals, including forward Troy Brouwer, lamenting the fact they weren't going to play another game against Bourque and the Flames this season.

That all changed, of course, when Bourque was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens last Thursday in the trade that sent Mike Cammalleri back to Calgary.

And which team are the Capitals visiting on Wednesday night? You guessed it, Rene Bourque and the Canadiens.

Not surprisingly, John Erskine, perhaps the Capitals' most willing fighter, is expected to be in the lineup, and some fireworks are expected. It's pretty much a given that somebody is going to challenge Bourque, even if the Capitals are downplaying it and talking about how the two points are the important thing (and, truth be told, they are the most important thing for the Capitals right now).

“For us to say we're going go out there and take liberties at him or something like that, probably not," said forward Joel Ward, via Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times. "I think we'll definitely be playing hard for sure. I'm sure guys are going to be playing pretty hard, especially against him and let him know that what he did we thought was a pretty cheap shot.”

With all of that in mind, the folks at Capitals Blog Russian Machine Never Breaks have their own idea as to how tonight's game is going to play out ... if it were a version of the classic Nintendo game, Mike Tyson's Punch Out.



(H/T Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Rene Bourque suspended 5 games
Bourque traded to Montreal for Mike Cammalleri

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 9:05 pm
 

Tyler Seguin scratched for missing team breakfast

By: Adam Gretz

The Boston Bruins entered Tuesday's game against the Winnipeg Jets as the hottest team in the NHL, and they hit the ice without the services of their leading scorer, Tyler Seguin, as a result of the 19-year-old forward missing a mandatory team meeting and team breakfast earlier in the day, according to general Peter Chiarelli.

Said Chiarelli, via Joe Haggerty of CSNNE on Twitter, "Seguin missed team breakfast and team meeting this morning, an honest mistake, but we have team rules. He has to abide by them." Chiarelli also added that Seguin "didn't take it well," but understands why the rules are in place.

Entering Tuesday's action Seguin, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, was leading the team with 13 goals and 25 points.

Seguin isn't the first player to be benched this season for missing a team meeting, as Washington's Joel Ward was a healthy scratch a couple of weeks ago because he overslept.

Jordan Caron entered the lineup in Seguin's place on Tuesday.

More Bruins News: Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 23, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 12:13 pm
 

Joel Ward to be scratched for missing meeting

By: Adam Gretz

During their most recent home game, 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch for the Washington Capitals following a recent of stretch poor play.

When the team takes on the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night Semin will be back in the lineup. The bad news? Taking his place in the press box will be forward Joel Ward, who will be scratched for sleeping in on Tuesday and missing a team meeting.

Said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, via Katie Carrera of the Washington Post, “You don’t want to do it. He’s a good player but the rules have got to be the rules for everybody. It’s an unfortunate thing he overslept but he missed it. He understands the rules. He’s a good team guy. He feels bad about it but he knows the rules."

He had been sick earlier in the week.

Ward was one of the Capitals' biggest offseason additions, signing him to a four-year, $12 million contract after he spent the previous three seasons playing for the Nashville Predators. In 19 games with the Capitals he's scored four goals to go along with four assists. Even if it's for just one game, his absence will hurt the Capitals as he's an excellent defensive forward and generally plays in some of the toughest situations -- as he did in Nashville -- and tends to draw assignments against the other team's best players.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 2, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: November 2, 2011 12:59 pm
 

Ovechkin benched in crunch time; big deal or not?

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- When it came crunch time on Tuesday night for the Washington Capitals, trailing by one with less than a minute to go, Bruce Boudreau put his best line on the ice. That did not include putting Alexander Ovechkin in the game. And wouldn't you know it, Nicklas Backstrom scored on a big rebound to send the game to overtime.

The Caps eventually prevailed over the Ducks when Backstrom again beat Jonas Hiller. Ovechkin was on the ice for that goal, getting an assist as the pass to Backstrom went off Ovie's skate.

But back to that end of regulation. Coming out of a timeout, Boudreau had just diagrammed a play and pulled his goalie Tomas Vokoun. That's when Ovechkin was ready to jump on the ice, only to be told to take a seat.

As you can see from the video, Ovechkin was saying the right things afterward. But at the time? Well he didn't seem too pleased with the benching, now did he?

The obvious answer is why wouldn't he? Of course he wanted to play and be on the ice in the final minute. If he weren't angry and wanting to play, just taking a benching with disinterest, wouldn't THAT be cause for concern? So he muttered something to himself. Big deal.

Boudreau explained -- quite well, if you ask me -- why Ovechkin wasn't on the ice. Was it due to poor performance?

"You tell me," Boudreau responded. "I got to put out the guys that I think are going to score the goal. Ninety-nine percent of the time Alex is the guy I think is going to score the goal. I just didn't think he was going to score the goal at that time tonight."

Ovechkin responded on Wednesday, explaining he was, indeed frustrated, but supports Boudreau's system of accountability. (Quotes from Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post.)

"I was pissed off. Of course I want to be in that situation on the ice. It was just a little bit frustrating because I’m a leader in the team and I want that kind of responsibility."

As to what he said that was caught on TV?

"It doesn’t matter who I said it, and what I said. It looked funny on TV."

The funny thing is that Boudreau is making a heck of a lot of calls this year, brave ones. He started Michal Neuvirth over Vokoun on opening night. He specifically said Ovechkin needed to be better ... after Game 2 of the season. He split up his stud defensive pairing of Karl Alzner and John Carlson so they could extend their versatility. Mike Knuble? He's been pushed down to the fourth line. Ol' Bruce has been pushing a lot of buttons, and a lot of them have been the right ones. After all, the Caps are 8-2-0.

Is there big trouble in little China Town, aka Washington (see, Verizon Center is located in D.C.'s China To ... ah forget it)?

Not at all. Feelings might be a little hurt, but that's about it. Boudreau was right, the third line of Jason Chimera, Joel Ward and Brooks Laich was excellent not only on Tuesday, but all season long. Oh, and Washington scored the goal. Doesn't that vindicate Boudreau a little bit?

Fact of the matter is that Ovechkin isn't playing the same way that we're used to seeing. Check that. He IS playing the same way we're used to seeing and everybody in the league seems to know what he's going to do before he does. But we aren't seeing him produce the same way. He isn't producing the goals that make you say "wow." He has scored five goals and has five more assists in 10 games, but you can see it isn't coming as easily. The up-ice rushes are shut down nearly every time now with defenders expecting that cutback to center ice and then the shot flying.

That's why this is being blown a bit out of proportion.

If it happens in the next game, then there might be some more there. As of now, Boudreau had a hunch, and his hunch was right.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 22, 2011 9:51 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Capitals look good all around in pounding Wings

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- How much do you read into a 7-0 start? Not much other than a team is playing well to start the year.

But what can you read from the Capitals' 7-0 start to the season after a 7-1 rout of the previously unbeaten Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night? Maybe they're more than just hype. This performance is what you can call a statement win. On the heels of a very solid win in Philadelphia?

There is a lot to like. Let me count the ways.

Mike Green is beginning to resemble the player we came to know a few years ago. He tied a career high with four points Saturday, including both Capitals goal on the man advantage.

His presence was a large reason why the Capitals power play is looking lethal again. Sharp, crisp passes and Green firing on net from the point?

"If we could go 2 for 4 every night, we'd take it," coach Bruce Boudreau said.

He isn't alone in the puck-moving duties. A healthy Dennis Wideman has been huge in that department. With an assist here, he has a point in each of Washington's seven games thus far. That ties a career high (noticing a trend?). John Karlson ain't too shabby either.

Their lineup has balance and depth. Marcus Johansson, who was a healthy scratch on opening night, is tied for the team lead in goals with four, including a goal against Detroit. Matthieu Perreault, himself a scratch on a couple occasions, scored twice to bring his total to three on the season. Overall, 14 different Capitals made their way on to the score sheet against the Red Wings -- 14!

"It shows that we got a lot of depth and everyone can score every night," Perreault said. "It makes our team pretty tough to play against. You got to get out there with four lines ready to go every night because our four lines are ready to go every night. It feels pretty good right now."

More Red Wings-Capitals

"That shows the versatility and the depth on of this team," Troy Brouwer added. "Matty P's [Perreault] line scored two, well Matty scored two. Even our shutdown line was scoring tonight."

Players like Alexander Semin -- criticized for his playoff showings in recent years -- and Alex Ovechkin aren't carrying all of the offensive load. It's why Ovechkin's minutes are down this season and Bruce Boudreau wants to keep it that way. Johansson and Jason Chimera are the leading goal scorers so far, not Ovie, Semin or Nicklas Backstrom. Although it is worth noting that with two assists, Ovechkin might be warming up. That's points in three straight games.

They have some much-needed grit in the additions of Joel Ward and Brouwer, who had a team-high five hits Saturday. The line of Ward, Chimera and Brooks Laich -- the aforementioned shutdown line -- has been a nightmare on opposing top lines. Plus, those guys have some skill.

"It's good. That's how you win in this league," Ward said. "When you get each line scoring and in a positive manner, that's huge. That's what you need."

Oh, and there is this pretty sharp goaltender named Tomas Vokoun. He's just been OK if you find save percentages in the .960s good. Since an ugly debut, he's been lights out, allowing six goals in five games.

"It [being undefeated] feels pretty good," Vokoun said. "Obviously I am not custom to that feeling, so it's great. We work hard, we play hard and obviously we have the older talent. We are doing good things."

You are afraid to read too much into things so early in the season, but it's tough not to notice.

If we were to nitpick, though, we have to turn to the statistics. The Capitals are being outshot most nights, including 33-25 against the Red Wings on Saturday. A 28 percent shooting percentage is a little tough to repeat on most nights.

The Wings didn’t put their best foot forward Saturday night, starting Ty Conklin in favor of Jimmy Howard, who played in Friday night’s game. But they beat him like a drum.

"Anytime we lose it's disappointing [but] there's a lot of things as a team that we can take away from this," Conklin said. "I found a lot of ways we were really good, [but] like I said, the difference was in goal."

Tthere is no let up here. The balance is obvious just by looking at the ice time. No forward played more than 17:16 (that was Laich) and none played less than 10:20 (Perreault).

The word that comes to mind now is complete. The wholes are tough to find.

"The guys in here, it's still early in the season, we're real wrapped up and we're real excited to come into every game," Brouwer said.

"Right now we've been pretty hot and hopefully we can keep that going," Perreault said.

With so many contributors, that seems like a distinct possibility.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 5, 2011 5:39 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 5:59 pm
 

Why the Capitals kept Boudreau

BB1By: Adam Gretz

When the Washington Capitals were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the playoffs last season there was a belief that head coach Bruce Boudreau could be the person to take the fall for yet another disappointing -- and short -- postseason run.

For all of the regular season success the Capitals have experienced since Boudreau took over behind the bench, relieving Glen Hanlon early in the 2007-08 season, the team has managed to win just two playoff series in four trips, both of which came against the New York Rangers.

Given that the Capitals have finished in the top-three of the Eastern Conerence in each of the past three seasons, much more has been expected.

Even so, the Capitals front office showed its faith in Boudreau this offseason and brought him back for the 2010-11 season, and this week general manager George McPhee told Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times why he made that decision. For one, McPhee said that teams in the NHL change coaches way too often -- and he's right about that. Teams go through them like they're old socks -- and that when a team comes up short the knee jerk reaction is to always go right to the coach.

More from McPhee, via Whyno...
“I look at a coach who’s got the best winning percentage in the regular season of any coach in the history of the league. No coach has had a better record after this many games. He’s won four straight division titles, he’s won a Presidents’ Trophy, he’s won two Eastern Conference titles — pretty good record. It doesn’t always go your way in the playoffs, but as long as you’re getting there and playing well and competing, that’s what we want.”
I'm not sure what the two Eastern Conference titles is a reference to, but the overall point is that McPhee has complete faith in his head coach and is happy with the impressive regular season mark. The Capitals are once again a preseason favorite to reach the Stanely Cup Final, especially after adding Tomas Vokoun, Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Roman Hamrlik this summer to go with their already deep roster, which will once again put a target on Boudreau if the team falls short of expectations.

Either way, his return to the Capitals is great news for local businesses in the Washington D.C. area, including Hadeed Carpet, which is using Boudreau in some amazingly awkward commercials, like the one featured below, which comes via Capitals Blog Russian Machine Never Breaks (and they have more, including outtakes).


Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 23, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 2:09 pm
 

Southeast Division preview: Still chasing Caps

By Brian Stubits

The days of the South-least Division are slowly fading away.

For the last half decade, the Southeast Division has been the Washington Capitals' playground with four teams chasing. Of course the Caps have been very good through that time, but fattening up on their division "rivals" undoubtedly helped them to four straight division championships.

Just take the 2009-10 season as an example. That year the Capitals had 18 more points than the next closest team in the East while no other team in the division finished even in the top nine of the conference standings. That's especially amazing when you consider there are only 15 teams in the East.

They stil finished atop the East despite a transformation. Head coach Bruce Boudreau changed the way the team plays, trying to lock down on defense. As a result, the league's highest-scoring team the past few years dipped all the way to 19th in scoring. Alex Ovechkin had a very good season by almost anybody's standards. Just not his own.

The trick for Boudreau is to find that happy medium. They showed defense is something they can and in the past they showed they can score. Now they need to show they can do both. If they don't, especially early, Boudreau will hear the calls for his firing. The most successful regular-season team hasn't done enough after it to satisfy the increasingly antsy and demanding fan base.

But the somewhat surprising emergence of the Lightning last year has beefed up the division's rep. Tampa Bay figured to be on its way back up the NHL ladder, but the boom that came out of last season seemed to be ahead of schedule. Now the division has two of the game's elite scorers in Steven Stamkos and Ovechkin. With the Bolts unceremoniously sweeping the Caps in the playoffs last year, we just might have the beginning of an actual division rival for Washington.

The division also features something new: the most amped up fan base in the league, at least for one season. The Winnipeg Jets are still stuck playing in a division that will have them being true fish out of water. To say the Jets will suffer from jet-lag isn't just a fun pun but a reality they face. With that said, what was one of the easiest road trips in the NHL just became one of the toughest, especially for the teams in the Southeast that should look into taking the Concord to Manitoba.

Southeast Division (in order of predicted finish)

Washington Capitals: The Caps have become one of the league's elite teams and have done a pretty remarkable job of keeping their core together. Well this offseason owner Ted Leonsis and crew decided it was time to shake up the roster a touch to try and find the missing recipe to move Washington deeper into the playoffs. Enter Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Tomas Vokoun among others. I don't think there was a bigger offseason addition in this division than the Caps getting Vokoun, especially when you factor in the salary he'll be getting. Vokoun's talents have been hidden in Florida in the past four seasons, but he's an excellent goaltender but he is (or at least was) prone to prolonged slumps. As for Ward and Brouwer, they considerably beef up the Caps' toughness up front along the boards who are very capable two-way players.

Strengths: They have shown they can do every facet of the game well. It is a challenge to find a more talented team in hockey, including on the blue line. That's not something you could say in the past, but John Carlson and Karl Alzner complement each other well enough to make one of the best young defenseman duos in the NHL.

Weaknesses: It is tough to pinpoint any with this team, it is very well-rounded. It will be interesting to see how they handle expectations and increased heat when they hit some rough patches. Also, from an organizational standpoint the team has very little room to maneuver under the salary cap. That could be worth monitoring if/when GM George McPhee decided to tweak the roster.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Everything came together for a great run to a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference finals last season under new coach Guy Boucher. He brought in the ol' 1-3-1 system that seemed to be a magic trick for the Bolts. Now the question becomes can they repeat or was last year lightning in a bottle (that pun really was not intended)? One thing strongly in their favor is that the return almost the entire roster intact from last season. They did lose a couple of players such as Simon Gagne, but not much in the way of being unable to repair. one player who is back is Eric Brewer, and he'll be better for having spent camp and beginning the season in Tampa Bay. It will be interesting to see how this team fares with expectations on their shoulders.

Strengths: They roll out two excellent lines at the top. The Ryan Malone-Stamkos-Martin St. Louis line is one of the best in the game and the second group of Nate Thompson-Vincent Lecavalier-Teddy Purcell isn't too shabby, especially if Purcell continues his growth. They also had excellent special teams last year, ranking in the top 8 of both power play (it helps to have Stamkos, who scores 17 on the PP last year) and penalty kill a season ago. I also love the man on their bench as Boucher is a star in the making among coaches.

Weaknesses: I am still not in love with the goaltending situation. Dwayne Roloson was very good after being picked up by GM Steve Yzerman (he would qualify as another strength), but he just doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in me to keep it up. The addition of Mathieu Garon to back him up is a good one, though. Moreover, consistency might be an issue, especially for Stamkos. He really slowed down last season, failing to score 50 goals when he appeared to be on his way to 60 midseason.

Carolina Hurricanes: If the playoffs were a night club, the Hurricanes have been the guy standing at the front of the line until the bouncer says they're full. Every year it seems they are squarely on the playoff bubble, including last season when it came down to Game 82, which was a sound defeat. This season figures to be more of the same for the 'Canes as they might just be the next-best thing to a playoff team the East has to offer. They had a very pleasant surprise in Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner last season and captain Eric Staal is still leading the show. Gone, though, is another Carolina long-timer in Erik Cole (now in Montreal). One thing you have to love about this franchise, though, is its consistency. GM Jim Rutherford has been there ever since they became the Hurricanes (and before). It seems like their best players don't leave the organization, either. Hopefully for them the consistency in their finishes doesn't stay the same, but instead they crack the postseason. But in a beefed up East, that will be tougher said than done.

Strengths: They have an excellent captain in Staal, both from a leadership standpoint and player quality. They also boast one of the better goalies in the league in Cam Ward, an All-Star last season. And there's that whole consitency thing they have going on, often helps in the old chemistry department.

Weaknesses: There is not much depth to talk about in Carolina. After Stall, Skinner, Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu, they aren't likely going to find a whole lot of scoring. They also don't posses a ton of size among the forwards, hence the reason they brought in Anthony Stewert and Alex Ponikarovsky this offseason to help. There just doesn't seem to be enough to crack the postseason, but Rutherford admits to this being somewhat of a "rebuilding" phase. That's a pretty competitive team for one that's rebuilding.

Florida Panthers: The Panthers were incredibly active in the free-agent market in July, adding a slew of veterans to hold the tide while the youngsters develop. Undoubtedly the Panthers are better than they were last season, but how much better? They did lose arguably their best player in Vokoun and are replacing him with the combination of Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen, not exactly an exciting development. But it can't be denied that the Panthers now at least have NHL-quality players across their lines (and defensive pairings, led by Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski), but they still aren't high-quality players, not guys that you figure can get them into the playoffs, finally. The trick in Florida is not doing anything now to hinder the future, which is very bright as the system is loaded.

Strengths: I do like the defensive corps they are putting together, especially if 2010 No. 3 overall draft pick Erik Gudbranson makes the team as expected. It's very hard to say at this point with so many new faces coming together what kind of strenghts we're looking at, it's tough to predict how they will play together. But we do know something that isn't likely be a strength this year ...

Weaknesses: The aforementioned goaltender position. With Vokoun gone, the Panthers are relying on the combination of Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen. Now, both do have experience, Theodore more so than the Clemmer, but in no way do they make up for what Vokoun, Florida's best player in recent seasons, took with him. You also have to wonder about chemistry issues with this team having brought in so many new faces. We'll put new coach Kevin Dineen as an "unknown."

Winnipeg Jets: The virtue of such a home-ice advantage will likely make the Jets a little better than the Thrashers were last season, but not enough. Thankfully for them the new home crowd in Winnipeg will just be jacked to have hockey back. They will need to take advantage of the home crowd, especially with a stretch of 10 home games in 11 contests that stretches from the end of November through December. But they will need to find scoring punch, especially from the forward group. They have excellent point producers among the defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom, but Ladd needs more help. Hopefully, that's where Evander Kane will fit in. In his third year since being drafted in the first round (all of his time spent at the NHL level) this could be the year he steps up his game and becomes a franchise fixture. He is already a popular figure partly by virtue of his Twitter account and the way he has taken to Winnipeg.

Strengths: They were above average on the power play last season, finishing 12th in the league thanks to Byfuglien and Enstrom. Thrown in the potential of Zach Bogosian as an offensive weapon and that's a lunch of firepower coming back the blue line. I like Ondrej Pavelec in net if he can get a little better support from his teammates. I will put one more in this category, and that's the patience of the front office. They have a lot of first-round talent on the roster and they don't seem willing to abandon the long-term plan for a quick fix to appease the riled up fans.

Weaknesses: The forwards need to show more. Outside of Ladd, nobody up front cracked the 20-goal barrier last season in Atlanta. They need to find a way to tighten down defensively after giving up the second-most goals per game in hockey last year at 3.20. The forwards doing a better job of creating scoring chances and possessing the puck will certainly contribute. The penalty kill was almost equally bad last year, clocking in at 27th in the NHL. Like the Panthers, we'll put new coach Claude Noel as an "unknown."

NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.



Posted on: September 6, 2011 9:44 pm
 

Why Tomas Vokoun chose Capitals over Red Wings

VokounBy: Adam Gretz

It's not often that you hear about a player turning down a contract offer from the Detroit Red Wings because another team gives him a better opportunity to win the Stanley Cup.

It usually works the other way around, seeing as how the Red Wings have appeared in five of the past 14 Stanley Cup Finals, winning four of them.

For example: Prior to the 2008-09 season Marian Hossa, who had been on the losing end  of the Stanley Cup Final the previous season as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins (against the Red Wings), turned down more lucrative offers in free agency to sign a one-year deal with Detroit because that was the team he felt gave him the best chance to win. As it turned out, his decision didn't work out for him that season (the Red Wings ended up losing to the Penguins) and Hossa would have to wait another year to eventually get his ring as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Earlier this offseason former Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Washington Capitals, which seems like an incredible value for Washington since the 35-year-old Vokoun has been one of the better goalies in the league in recent years.

On Tuesday, he spoke with Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post and confirmed that he had turned down an offer from the Red Wings because he felt the Capitals roster this season is closer to winning the cup, as well as family considerations (he said it would be easier for his family to visit Washington than Detroit, while the Capitals have an easier travel schedule).

Of all the reasons given, the opinion that Washington is closer to a Cup certainly stands out.

From the Post:
“Looking at Washington’s lineup compared to Detroit, they are comparable teams,” Vokoun said. “But Detroit in last 10 years won three times Stanley Cup. And Washington never won it. But that’s a lot better challenge for me and the team, to be able to do something special.”

He later added: “My belief is this team has a better chance to win than Detroit does. And they showed a lot more interest, so that was the key for me, too.”
Vokoun didn't specifically address it, but it might also be worth pointing out that the starting job may have been easier to obtain in Washington (where Michal Neuvirth was the returning starter) than it would have been in Detroit (Jimmy Howard). Both teams are likely to be at the top of their respective conferences when the regular season ends, so it all comes down to the playoffs.

On paper the Capitals seemingly have everything a team would need to not only contend for the Cup, but also win it. They can score, they have one of the best offensive-defenseman in the NHL (Mike Green) and added some nice role players this offseason with Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, to go along with Vokoun, a legitimate No. 1 goaltender in recent years. But it seems like we've been saying that for a couple of years now, and the playoff record is what it is. They've won their division in each of the past four seasons, finishing as the top seed in the Eastern Conference two years in a row, but have managed to get out of the first round only twice over that stretch, and never beyond the second round.

They should be close to winning it, and perhaps Vokoun is one of the missing pieces to getting them there.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com