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Three Thursday thoughts

By Kareem El-Alaily

A tried but true option at 3C?  Ideally, the hope is that we acquire a second-line center by March and that Marcus Johansson (MarJo) settles in as the third-line pivot. The 3C position needs to be manned by someone who is defensively responsible, can win face-offs, and is able to generate a counter-attack despite being consistently matched up against opponents’ top lines. Johansson is a good-sized center that won’t be pushed off the puck by big centers, possesses excellent speed, can create his own chances and has a very high upside. The Caps need to find him playing time so that he can reach his top-6 forward potential as quickly as possible. But what happens come playoff time if MarJo cannot sustain the level of play required for a Stanley Cup contender and there are no external solutions available to the Caps?

Here’s a potential suggestion: try Boyd Gordon in the 3C role.

Gordon is a role player -- an energy guy who plays good defense and occasionally chips in with some timely offense. The team is now 6-0 in games he’s played in this season, a few of them with him playing the 3C. While Gordon is certainly not a player who can consistently impact a game, it’s not a coincidence that the Caps are more successful with him in the lineup. He does all the little things right, plus he’s demonstrated that he’s a playoff gamer based on his performance last April. Going with the Gordon option beats going the route we went last year when we gave up a second-round pick for Eric Belanger, a defensive-minded 3C who could win face-offs but provided little offense and was only adequate as a penalty-killer. Why not just use Boyd Gordon if the same situation presents itself this year? The Caps would get the same qualities out of Gordon as they did from Belanger except Gordon is a better penalty killer. Plus, Gordon knows his role with the team and within the system.

If by March our center situation remains unresolved, I think Gordon should be considered for the 3C. It’s not the ideal situation, but if MarJo doesn’t develop fast enough Gordo may be our next best option over poor defensive forwards such as Tomas Fleischmann and Mathieu Perreault. I’ll pose the question to you now (with more after the poll).

Is Bruce Channeling the NCAA? Legendary college basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian once quipped that when “the NCAA is mad at Kentucky, it will probably slap another two years' probation on Cleveland State.” What he was implying was that when the NCAA wanted to send a message against committing infractions it would never harshly punish a storied, big-revenue program like Kentucky; rather they’d go after a second-tier program like Cleveland State and throw the book at them.

I couldn’t help but think of Tarkanian when Bruce benched Eric Fehr and Mathieu Perreault against Calgary Saturday. It’s Boudreau’s decision who skates on game nights and both Fehr and Perreault were indeed guilty of lackadaisical and ineffective play the previous two games against Carolina and Minnesota. Fehr definitely responded with a better effort Wednesday night against Toronto. But I wonder what would happen if and when some of Bruce’s more entitled talented players perform poorly, as a few of them have already done this year. Is Boudreau willing to send a message to Kentucky and sit down one of his star players who has been equally lackadaisical and ineffective, or is it business as usual in D.C.?

College Hockey: You readers have likey figured out that I'm a sucker for local college hockey. For those of you interested here are my top five rankings for club hockey teams in the DMV:

  1. Liberty D1 (ACHA Division 1)
  2. UMBC (ACHA Division 2)
  3. Liberty D2 (ACHA Division 2)
  4. Virginia Tech (ACHA Division 2)
  5. Navy (ACHA Division 1)

There are some big games this weekend that will have an impact on my standings: Maryland vs Navy and V.T. vs Liberty D2. Good luck to all teams! Hopefully a few of these teams can make some noise at nationals this year.

By Kareem El-Alaily  | November 4, 2010; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  | Tags:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  
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Next: Maryland basketball preview: part 2

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