The Hershey Bears won their second straight Calder Cup (it’s real hard not to call it the Calder Trophy) and third in five years last night. Their playoff run included half of their 16 wins coming in overtime, Beamoning the previous AHL playoff record of six overtime wins, with an 8-1 record in overtime. I would walk through fire to assure the Capitals went .500 in overtime in the playoffs, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. My desire to watch a sporting event that was neither soccer nor baseball overcame my desire to watch a sporting event played in high definition or at the highest level of competition, but it also provided an opportunity to see next year’s reinforcements and what a playoff beard looked like grown over a period of time longer than the two weeks I’m used to. Chris Bourque and John Carlson were clearly the two most dominant skaters in the Finals, and Bourque took home playoff MVP with his Hall of Fame father in attendance. Carlson started off slowly in the playoffs, then took over the Calder Cup Finals after the Bears fell behind 2-0 after two games at home in the 2-3-2 format (the Bears were the first AHL team to come back from such a deficit). Captain America, as they Hershey Announcers repeatedly called him, went 2-2-4 +5 with two game winners during the Bears’ four subsequent wins, and along with Karl Alzner shut down Texas Stars top scorer Jamie Benn.
So Carlson is a mortal lock to make the big club next year, while Alzner and Michal Neuvirth will likely join him. It’s safe to say a big reason Carlson finished his year in the AHL was to get more experience playing along Alzner, and the lack of discussions between Washington and Jose Theodore is a pretty good indicator Neuvirth will be at least the backup goalie next year. After that, in order of likelihood of making the team out of training camp, I’d say it goes Mathieu Perreault, Chris Bourque, Andrew Gordon, and Steve Pinizzotto. In particular, it figures Washington would like Perreault to add some lower body strength to become stronger on the puck and provide depth at center. Braden Holtby will take over the reins between the pipes at Hershey and possibly emerge as the Capitals’ next blue chip prospect, because while the cupboard is far from bare, it looks like this will be the first time since the fire sale of 2004 that Washington won’t have a glut of NHL ready prospects.
All’s Fehr: It’s all but certain Jose Theodore, Brendan Morrison, Joe Corvo, and Scott Walker won’t be back. Eric Belanger’s return is less than 50/50 but there’s been discussion. But I truly believe now that Backstrom is locked up the top objective, even ahead of adding another center, is resigning Eric Fehr. So hearing Fehr’s agent sound positive regarding discussions is great news.
About the Author
Written by Ryan Cleaver
Ryan Cleaver was born in Björk’s house in Iceland and grew up on Easter Island, where his parents were giant stone heads. He has the ability to fire beams of tacos out of his hands and he can turn his legs into tigers. On Sundays, Ryan enjoys reading Family Circus and traveling through time. His favorite color is greenish-transparent and his favorite movie is the one you just watched.