Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the NHL’s labor negotiations follow a similar path to last year’s NBA work stoppage, which ended around Thanksgiving and resulted in an abbreviated 66-game season.
Would a shortened 2012-13 season be beneficial or harmful to the Capitals?
The answer is both.
Among the benefits:
The chemistry of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. OK, so Backstrom’s first choice would have been playing for Brynas of the Swedish Elite League. But by playing together with Dynamo Moscow, the Caps’ two most potent offensive weapons will have zero adaptation issues when/if the season resumes.
Preserving the old guys. Overall, the Caps are still a young team, with just six players 30 or over. But a shortened season would definitely benefit old salts Roman Hamrlik, 37, Jason Chimera, 33, and Mike Ribeiro, 32, who should have plenty in their tank in April and May.
Healing old wounds. Although they were all deemed ready for training camp, the extra time off has allowed Jay Beagle [foot], Mike Green [abdominal surgery] and Joel Ward [sports hernia] ample time to strengthen themselves.
Razor-sharp goalies. While everyone is excited to see how Braden Holtby will handle the role of No. 1 goalie in Washington, a little extra time in the minors can’t hurt the 23-year-old netminder. Michal Neuvirth’s decision to play in the Czech Republic was also a wise move and assures him the opportunity to compete against Holtby on an even playing field.
How might a shortened season hurt the Caps?
Coaching change. No one is being hurt more by the lockout than first-year coaches. Adam Oates, Tim Hunter and Calle Johansson formulated a demanding style of play that may take weeks to implement. And with each game having more significance in a shortened regular season, the Caps cannot afford a slow start.
Inactivity department. The longer this lockout goes, the longer it will take players to get into game shape. The Caps have 15 players -- Jay Beagle, Troy Brouwer, Jason Chimera, Matt Hendricks, Marcus Johansson, Mathieu Perreault, Mike Ribeiro, Joel Ward, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, John Erskine, Mike Green, Roman Hamrlik, Jack Hillen and Jeff Schultz – who are not playing regularly. That could take a physical toll when Oates ramps up the conditioning level it will take to play his puck pursuit style.
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