In the interest of hockey, making fun of ourselves, and just promoting good diplomatic relations up north, OFB was pretty stoked when one of Detroit’s hockey blogs, The Production Line, reached out last week and suggested doing a Q&A between the two blogs in honor of the Caps/Red Wings showdown on Wednesday. TPL is run by three die-hard Wings fans who’ve kept their love of the Wings alive despite moves to Texas, Washington (state), and New York.
The setup: Each blog submitted a list of questions to be answered by the other site. The results: well, you’ll have to be the judge.
So what do Detroit Red Wings aficionados want to know about the Caps? Well, below are the literary pebbles (yeah, definitely not gems) that make up some of our team’s responses to the TPL questions. To read their answers to our set of questions, like what we’d see out of Mike Babcock (and his flowing locks) in an HBO 24/7 type show, check out the other half of our exchange here at TPL.
TPL: Every Winter Classic road team has lost in the Cup finals that same year (PIT 08, DET 09, PHI 10). Given the overwhelming sense that history is not on your side this year, do you think it’s still worth playing out the rest of the season? Are the Caps destined to lose in the Cup finals?
OFB’s Mike: Traditions are made to be broken. Now excuse me while I go burn my Winter Classic jersey.
OFB’s Alex: About a month ago I would have been completely unsurprised by another Caps’ first round exit, but, especially since the trade deadline, I have been impressed to the point of pulling my Stanley Cup prediction out of the recycle bin. And that was Canucks in six versus the Caps. Damn!
TPL: How much job security does Boudreau actually have? He’s had some ridiculously talented teams fall very short of expectations. Is it Cup finals or bust this year?
Mike: No. Might be conference finals or bust, though.
OFB’s Lis: This franchise owes Boudreau a lot (see Caps: November 2007 vs. Caps: March 2011), and Boudreau seems to have more job security than Pat Sajak, frankly, compared to most of the NHL. However, with this year’s trade deadline moves, I think there’s more pressure on his shoulders, because he has the personnel to get to the Cup finals.
TPL: Leonsis and Ilitch, our respective owners, have very different styles in terms of blogger engagement. Is it nice having an owner who is actively engaged in discussing his own team or would it be better for them if he were a bit more detached?
Mike: Yes, a thousand times yes: an engaged owner is fantastic. Sure, there have been times we’ve gone against Ted’s grain and rankled him a bit — and paid the price. But overall, an owner like Leonsis is a rare and wonderful thing for any sports fan.
TPL: Across the DC sports market, where do the Caps rank in terms of the local teams?
Lis: Let’s see – sandwiched at different points over recent seasons between Albert Haynesworth, Gilbert Arenas, and the “Natinals,” the Caps have managed to remain the D.C. team with the best record and the least amount of coverage (except maybe for D.C. United).
TPL: Neuvirth? Holtby? Varlamov? If/when they’re all healthy, who’s the guy for the playoffs?
OFB’s Andrew, Dissent 1: It has to be Neuvy. I tend to like technical goalies more than athletic ones, and Varly also has a big x-factor: his problems with injuries. People call Matthew Stafford a china doll, but Stafford doesn’t have anything on Varly, who seems to only be able to play for a few weeks at a time. Neuvy has shown he can play under pressure–see his play against the Penguins. That said, Holtby is quickly jumping up my personal depth chart, and I know Lis has some thoughts on his potential—well, it is really a “love affair”–but I’ll let her explain.
Lis, Dissent 2: Welcome to the OFB civil war. Holtby will be the best goalie of them all, hands down, but Varlamov, if he’s healthy, should get the start. He responds better than anyone on the roster to NHL playoff pressure. Yeah, there have been a few bad outings, but he’ll be playing this year with a much more solid defense and a team that shouldn’t be dragging the series out to 7 games.
Mike, the Voice of Reason: Varly has the biggest upside, but never seems to be healthy. Neuvy is the most consistent. Holtby’s hot right now but makes the other two look like grizzed vets. Thus: Go into the playoffs starting Neuvy, with Varly as backup. Let Holtby lead the AHL Hershey Bears to the Calder Cup, and bring him back to DC next season.
TPL: Do they have Buffalo Wild Wings in D.C.? …and if so, what’s Boudreau’s favorite flavor of sauce?
Alex: There is in fact only one Buffalo Wild Wings inside the Beltway (and several others around). We “understand” Gabby, on his annual April vacation, discovered the robust wild wing flavor.
Mike: Based on the HBO 24/7 series, I’d say Boudreau’s favorite wing sauce flavor is Cookies n’ Cream Ice Cream.
TPL: True or False: Jason Arnott, at this advanced stage in his career, is a better fit to replace PJ Crowley than he is on the Caps current roster.
Mike: False; in fact, by Detroit standards, Arnott’s career is just beginning. Though I did hear Lidstrom is a strong candidate to replace Regis.
Lis: Plus, Arnott’s been the Ronald Reagan to ending Alex Semin’s Cold War. So keep Arnott in hockey, please.
TPL: True or False: The movie Eastern Promises was based on Semyon Varlamov’s upbringing as a Russian mob boss before he broke into the NHL.
Lis: False, but we do suspect Semyon gave Robert Pattinson his big break by turning down the role of Edward in Twilight (see Varly’s roster headshot on Caps’ website).
TPL: ….and on a Black Swan-related note, Mila or Natalie?
Alex: This is more difficult to figure out than Macaulay Culkin. Seriously, what was he thinking? However, blue-wigged stripper Alice in Closer is making me think twice about Portman.
Married Mike: Neither. Pre-married Mike: Both
Now check out TPL in the hot seat.