Capitals have difficult season ahead
For those fans delighted to see as many as nine Capitals invited to their respective Olympic orientation camps here’s a word of caution.
It’s not always the best thing for a team hoping to win a Stanley Cup.
Four years ago, the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks led all NHL teams with eight Olympians and saw the Chicago Blackhawks come out of the West and win the Stanley Cup.
The Anaheim Ducks had seven Olympians that year and failed to make the playoffs.
The Capitals sent four players to those 2010 Vancouver Games, won by Canada in a gold medal thriller against Team USA, and finished atop the East with 121 points, only to be upset by Jaroslav Halak and the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.
Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Semyon Varlamov represented Russia and Nicklas Backstrom, who was 22 at the time, represented Sweden in those 2010 Games.
This year, John Carlson [USA], Mike Green, Karl Alzner and Braden Holtby [Canada], Ovechkin [Russia], Backstrom and Marcus Johansson [Sweden] have been invited to their respective Olympic orientation camps, while Martin Erat is expected to get a similar invitation from Team Czech Republic.
Of those eight players, Ovechkin, Backstrom and Erat are the only definitive locks to make their teams, with [in descending order] Green, Johansson, Carlson, Holtby and Alzner all on the fringes of their respective rosters.
As a head coach, Adam Oates would be the first to tell you he’s not excited about the havoc that can be wreaked during what will be an 18-day Olympic break for the Capitals, which will be followed by a stretch of 23 games in the final 45 days of the regular season.
The last thing Oates wants is a tired team heading down that stretch, which includes three dates against the Bruins in March.
And, as always, there is the underlying concern of players getting injured during the tournament.
Olympic snub? If there was one Capitals player snubbed in the invitation process it was probably Troy Brouwer, who had 19 goals and 14 assists in 47 games last season.
But with the Sochi Olympics being played on a larger ice surface, power forwards may be less effective with more open ice.