Monday, August 8, 2011

Will Vokoun Be The Capitals' Savior?

In recent history, the Washington Capitals have been a constant playoff team, winning the Southeast Division the last four seasons and placing in the top three seeds. However, with the promising seasons the Caps have produced, including a 121 point season in '09-'10 worthy of a Presidents Trophy, they have not made it past the Conference Semifinals.

Over the years the Capitals have put together a roster with players like Alexander Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green. With a roster featuring some of the biggest stars in the NHL, many wonder how the Caps have not had at least made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and had a chance to hoist the Cup. That question can be answered with one word, goal-tending.

Capitals' GM, George McPhee, may have found the solution to the problem that has cut the Caps playoff hopes short, with the addition of Tomas Vokoun. 

McPhee traded away Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche and received a first round draft pick in return. After Varlamov's departure McPhee jumped into the free agency and signed Vokoun to a one year contract worth a cap friendly $1.5 million. 

Recent goalies that have stood between the pipes for the Caps include Jose Theodore, Michal Neuvirth, and Cristobal Huet, Vokoun will be the newest number one goalie manning the crease in Washington.

In recent years Vokoun has posted a goals against average as low as 2.49 and a save percentage as high as .926 in his four season with the Florida Panthers. However, those numbers were wasted, being the Panthers did not make the playoffs once in those four seasons. Vokoun's 11 playoff games played came when he was playing with the Nashville Predators.

With the addition of Vokoun, the Washington Capitals should have their strongest tandem in net with backup, Neuvirth, being a formidable replacement when needed. The Caps will not be able to fall back on the "poor goal-tending" excuse if they suffer another early exit from the playoffs next season.

Another exit from the post season dance could prove to be the domino that could send the Capitals into a reconstruction mode, seeking the right formula to get them deeper into the playoffs. 

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