|The Caps' power play has heated up a bit in the last 3 preseason games.|
First off, Dmitry Orlov looked very good during the preseason. Orlov didn't register a point, but was impressive Sunday night when paired with Dennis Wideman at even strength. As we already know, Orlov has good speed and hockey sense, good passing ability, and a big shot that he should be able to utilize effectively sooner rather than later. With the possibility that John Erskine may not be ready for the season opener on Saturday, the young Russian has an outside shot at making the roster for the first week or two of the season as DC's seventh defenseman. When Erskine is healthy, however, Orlov will be back where he belongs, getting seasoning in Hershey. And no, he doesn't deserve to play over Schultz if he's on the roster.
Apparently, someone forgot to tell Michal Neuvirth that he is supposed to be the #2 option in goal on this team. The sophomore has looked awesome in all of his preseason appearances, red pads aside, and has put up impressive numbers: a 2-1-0 record, 1.34 GAA, and .949 save percentage. As was the case during last season, his technique and positioning are both impeccable for someone so young, and he is doing everything he can to hawk starts from Tomas Vokoun. It won't happen at the start of the season, in all likelihood, but this is most definitely a good thing for Neuvirth, Vokoun, and the team.
Mike Green has looked good as well, finally healthy after an offseason full of training and recovery from his concussions. The dynamic blueliner had two goals and two assists in the preseason, helping the Caps overcome, for now, their power play deficiencies with impressive performances in his final two tuneup games. I also think Green will be helped by the fact that Washington now has five above average defensemen, which means that he won't have to log massive minutes in every situation. Make no mistake, Green is out to prove that last year was a fluke and that he deserves a handsome raise when his restricted free agency comes again this summer. He's baaaaack.
In general, the Caps looked much better in their final game of the preseason than they did in any previous engagement. Certainly, there are items to be addressed, but in general, the vibes are good. The team is happy, and they know that they have the potential to do something very special. Everything has been set up for Washington to have a monster year. All that has to happen now is the players' execution of it.
Are you excited? You certainly should be.