Let me start this by saying, I am not a Capitals fan. I am also not a Red Wings fan. I am on the opposite side of the hockey world as a Penguins fan. I do also have respect for great hockey teams and a greater respect for great organizations, so while I don't like the Wings and Caps, I do respect them. The Red Wings have been a dominant team for years and will continue that, and the Caps are well on their way.
I have a close friend who is a Die Hard Capitals fan. I talked to him after their playoff upset and quickly realized I was talking to a broken man. I felt bad for the guy. Then I started to think that I maybe shouldn't, upsets happen. Then as this summer went on with all the trades and everything I started to notice some similarities. One was that the Caps, Pens and Hawks were all basement teams before the lock out and continued that trend into the first few years out of the lockout. They all have turned it around and become the top teams in the league the last few years with the Pens and Hawks wining the last two cups. That's where similarities end though. While the Pens and Hawks did get cups, they also had to trade away or let go of major pieces like, Hossa, Malone, Gill, Scuderi, Gonchar, Khabibulin, Ladd, Byfuglien, Madden, Versteeg, and Niemi. While all three teams will still be competitive, I bet the Caps like the luxury of not having to learn a lot of new names at the start of the season. Then I thought of other teams that had this luxury and there they were, The Detroit freaking Red Wings.
Then when you look closer still, you can see some similarities in some players and playoff performances. Some of these may just be crazy coincidences, but come on, when have things in common with the Wings, you're probably sitting good. A main trio the Wings had was Lidstrom, Yzerman, and Fedorov (or FLY)while the Caps now have Ovechkin, Green and Backstrom (OBG). Now FLY had to play together for 6 years before they got to drink from the cup. During those years they lost in the 2nd, 1st, 1st, 4th, 3rd rounds. The Caps trio has suffered 1st, 2nd and 1st round losses. Pretty close. This one is a stretch, with FLY they lost in round 1 their third year together in 7 games to the San Jose Sharks. Upset. This year (OBG's third year) they had an upset in round 1, in 7 games to the Canadians. Upset. Not a proud similarity, but still strangely comforting. It also helps Wings fans to know now that they went on to win Back-to-back cups with another coming in 02 with the trio.
No lets look at some player comparisons:
A young Captain with the ability to put up a HUGE amount of points, electrifying to watch, amazingly creative and incredibly dangerous 1 on 1. May not be the best defensive player in the league, but his offensive ability makes you overlook that. It is also pondered if he can lead his team to a championship or if he's just a good
regular season guy.
Things like that have/had been said about both players. But Yzerman figured it out, and I'm sure Ovechkin will too.
Lidstrom is considered a quiet leader and possibly the most quiet dominate force in the history of the game. Wings fans aren't worried when he's on the ice. I also think it's more likely to win the lottery on the same day Miss America called to ask you to be her date to a beer pong tournament on the moon, then it is for Lidstom to make a costly mistake. This sounds like the direction Backstrom is heading in. I'm pretty sure he's so calm he actually yawns while he's dangling people.
Now, instead of comparing Green to Fedorov, I'm going to switch era's and compare him to Datsyuk. The main knock on Mike Green is: Norris Trophy nominated Mike Green in the regular season, and Mike Who in the playoffs. I remember reading and hearing the same thing about Datsyuk in the early years. In Datsyuk's first 4 playoffs he played 42 games, with 3 goals and .36 points a game. During his last 4 playoffs however, he's played 65 games with 25 goals and .94 points a game. Mike Green has 3 playoffs beneath his belt with 28 games, 4 goals and .65 points a game. He's only 25 and has been nominated as the NHL's best defense man, I have confidence he'll figure the whole "playoffs" thing out.
So not just looking at the similarities between the teams, but also looking at similarities between key players, I think it's safe to say that the Capitals will be fine in time. It takes a lot more time to create a priceless work of art then it does to set off a fire work. I think the Caps are on their way, and the Wings will stay dominant for years. I hope the Pens will keep up.