Washington Capitals GM George McPhee says this 'might be the best team' they've had in years

georgemcpheecapsgm.jpgEven if you highlight Jaroslav Halak’s incredible three game run after his team was down 3-1, it’s hard to argue against the fact that the Washington Capitals’ first round loss was a disappointment. After all, the team ran away with the Presidents Trophy and boiled over with hubris and swagger.

Some GMs would take part in at least some housecleaning after another Game 7 loss at home, but George McPhee is staying the course with a young team that keeps producing in the regular season. In fact, McPhee thinks that the current Capitals roster might be the best they’ve had in the Alex Ovechkin years.

Here’s more from Michelle Scalise of CSN Washington.

Instead of making big moves in the offseason, McPhee has been adamant that the necessary pieces are in place to reach the finals this season.

“We have a team that we haven’t lost a lot of players, and all of the players are familiar with the club,” Finalist for GM of Year, McPhee told Comcast SportsNet’s Russ Thaler. “I just think with the combination of our skill and experience and our young guys like [Alex] Ovechkin, [Nicklas] Backstrom, [Brooks] Laich, and [Mike] Green, they’re men now. They came into the league young and they’ve learned, but they’re men now and I think it’s time for them to compete for the [Stanley] Cup as we all believe we can.”


With minor changes to the roster, the Capitals keep to their focus on reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.

“We believed we could have been there in any of the last couple of seasons, McPhee told Thaler. “This might be the best team we’ve had in the last three of four years, so, we are certainly capable of getting there.”

The Capitals were an amazing regular season force last year, so it’s understandable that McPhee would rather count on internal improvement rather than the blind gamble that free agency can be. Still, I think the team could use an upgrade in its second center spot and would also benefit from adding a shutdown defenseman along the lines of rugged (but injury prone) veteran Willie Mitchell.

Even in a rapidly improving (or at least drastically changing) Southeast division, the Capitals are strong favorites to take a top seed in the Eastern Conference and maybe – possibly – finally make good on all that promise. McPhee certainly feels that way.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?