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Posted at 2:05 PM ET, 03/ 3/2011

Belated judgment on new Capitals

By Nicole Weissman

Earlier this week, both Ryan and Kareem gave the Caps’ trade deadline acquisitions their seal of approval. With all three, Dennis Wideman, Marco Sturm and Jason Arnott, set to be in the lineup against the New York Islanders Tuesday night, I decided to withhold judgment until I could hear and see more from these players.

The early quotes from Wideman were a little discouraging. He sounded very surprised to be moving to D.C., and though I can’t find the quotes I’m talking about, I got the distinct feeling he was a little skeptical, or at least apprehensive, before quickly changing his tune and expressing enthusiasm and admiration for his new team.

Meanwhile, my first instinct was to say that the price on Jason Arnott was too high. Face-off wiz David Steckel and a draft pick in exchange for a rental rumored to be descending rapidly from the peak of his career? It was going to take something big to convince me that he was worth it.

Tuesday night, Arnott sold me. On the ice, he was a good fit. I suspect that between him and Wideman, there was a lot of communication going on out there as the guys worked to seamlessly integrate the newcomers. Or, equally likely, as the newcomers worked to integrate themselves. A vocal guy like Jason Arnott may be a great fit for famously quiet Alex Semin.

Off the ice, Arnott sold me even more. It’s like he knew we fans were floundering, and just needed someone to say the right thing. Like maybe, “I saw a lot of things tonight that we can do a lot better and I’m sure everybody knows that.” Yes, we do! “We’ve got to talk it over and go out and do it together.” Yes, Jason, show us the way! But in all seriousness, he reminded me of the value of a fresh set of eyes, and in this case, three fresh sets of eyes, in trying to resolve issues coming down the stretch.

Let’s just close out the trifecta here with a little talk about Marco Sturm. Another strong voice in the locker room, and the Caps couldn’t have had nicer things to say about him when they heard he would be coming to town. Alex Ovechkin said “I hope and everybody hopes he’s going to be our secret weapon.” Way to go Ovie, not so secret anymore.

After watching Tuesday night’s come from behind victory, I’m ready to join my fellow bloggers in praising George McPhee’s deadline deals. I remember a Caps team not long ago that had a penchant for giving up last-minute goals and had a way of giving up when it looked like the game was over. With a goal in the final minute of regulation and another in overtime, the Caps sealed the deal with a confidence I haven’t seen lately.

I have a good feeling right now, and I’ll finish with a thought about something we can look to see in the coming games. I know there’s been significant pushback when I’ve suggested that his leadership role has hindered Alex Ovechkin’s performance. But if it has, he’s about to feel that weight lifted in a big way, and I’m hopeful that we can expect him to really explode from here into the playoffs.

By Nicole Weissman  | March 3, 2011; 2:05 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  | Tags:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  
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