|Mike Green = das uber important. But you knew that.|
1. The Return of Mike Green: With the news last week that Dennis Wideman is out indefinitely, probably well into the playoffs, with hematoma in his leg, the return of Number 52 is as imperative as ever. With Wideman gone, Green is the best defenseman the Capitals have and is their only experienced power play quarterback. Washington needs his puck-moving skills to run the man-advantage, which still isn't clicking at even close to full speed, and also to take some of the even-strength offensive pressure of John Carlson, whose minutes have been way too high the last two games. Oh, and Mike is like, really good, and stuff.
2. Fix the Power Play: Duh. As has been pointed out many times by many people, the Capitals are wildly more successful in games in which they score a power play goal than in games they don't. I really think at this point that it is more about making the most of opportunities than the actual structure of the man advantage. I like Jason Arnott on the point and I like Alex Ovechkin down low. I will like Mike Green on the point (if he comes back). I like Nicklas Backstrom on the half wall. Now it's all about converting, there's not much more Boudreau can tinkle with here.
3: Six Healthy NHL Defensemen: Call me crazy. Is it too much to ask to have six of the nine defensemen the Capitals have on the roster right now healthy? Tyler Sloan has an undisclosed injury. Wideman has hematoma. John Erskine has another undisclosed injury. Mike Green has his concussion. And Tom Poti has that mystical leg/butt/knee/groin thing that's had him out of games since early February. That leaves Jeff Schultz, Scott Hannan, Karl Alzner, and John Carlson. I can't deal with Sean Collins and Brian Fahey in the playoffs. My blood pressure is high already.
4: A Number One Goalie to Emerge: Alot of people, including me, have said in the not-so-distant past that Michal Neuvirth deserves to be the man when the playoffs open April 13. However, judging by his performance over the last two games, when he has looked shaky at times and downright awful twice, I may be changing my mind a bit. Let's be honest, Neuvy only won those games because his offense had a pulse. Semyon Varlamov was much more impressive during his one start, even though he let in a very bad goal, and has allowed more than two goals just four times in his last 17 starts. The stats say he's the better candidate. To me, Neuvirth isn't playing like he really wants it right now, regardless of how good he's been this year (and he's been great). One of them is going to need to.
This is a big week. Heal up and get ready. Get some momentum. Could be big. Don't you just love hockey in April?