This past Saturday night I joined Off Wing Opinion’s Eric McErlain, Comcast Sportsnet’s hockey blogger Ben Raby, and veteran Capitals’ radio reporter Jonathon Warner in studio for Federal News Radio’s ‘Saturday Night Caps.’ Federal News Radio is the flagship station for the Capitals’ radio broadcasts, and Warner has been championing a ‘bloggers’ roundtable’ on his Saturday night program for some years now. It’s a highlight of my media engagement during the season: we have a full hour to talk pucks, with precious few commercial interruptions, and the banter is impassioned and thoughtful and witty. We have a blast every time we gather for it. Best of all, Warner takes us all out for margarita pitchers afterward.
Some topical highlights:
- The Capitals’ youth-laden roster this season is increasingly the focus of, in some corners, scapegoating scrutiny for the team’s struggles. Not so with our Saturday night panel; it has been the precocious performances of the likes of both young goalies, John Carlson and Karl Alzner, and even recent callups from Hershey that have served as steadying, reliable service all season long. Indeed, the kids have been a highlight in a season of precious few of them.
- Alexander Semin and his looming unrestricted free agency represent George McPhee’s greatest personnel challenge as a manager in his near decade-and-a-half tenure in D.C.
- On these Caps being “just a few points” behind the pace of last season’s President’s Trophy winners: It’s a false source of comfort. It was right about this time last season that the Caps ripped off a franchise-record 14 wins in a row. Who thinks this incarnation of Caps is poised to replicate that? The points-achieving discrepancy between the clubs, not quite readily apparent now, will be in the weeks ahead.
- The captain: Where is his speed — his breakaway dynamism? (How many breakaways has he had this season?) There appears to be a lack of burst in his stride.
- Most distressing about this season to date: The team’s failure to skate with fire and grit and heart in more than a handful of games.
- The Winter Classic and HBO’s ’24/7′ treatment were bitchin’ good fun.