I Know What You Did This Summer - And It's Pretty Good

CBS Sportsline is handing out its Midsummer Report Cards, and the Caps are at the head of the Southeast Division class. Granted, they probably had the most room (and need) for improvement, but seeing grades in the C-range attached to the top three teams in the Division and a B-plus for hometown team certainly leads one to the conclusion that, really, it's anyone's Division.

Here's CBS's review of the Caps' summer so far:
The Capitals had the fourth-lowest point total in the NHL last season, but their record wasn't necessarily a good indicator of how tough they were to play. Washington's talent level was limited, but the Caps worked hard for coach Glen Hanlon and surprisingly stayed in the playoff hunt until a series of key injuries hit around Christmas.

Still, the Capitals moved beyond being a team of Alex Ovechkin and sidekicks thanks to the emergence of 23-year-old Alexander Semin and 30-year-old captain Chris Clark as dynamic offensive forces. Even so, scoring was a major problem last season, and with ample cap space this summer, the Caps have done a good job upgrading by signing veteran free-agent playmakers Michael Nylander and Viktor Kozlov.

Washington added Tom Poti, a good puck-moving defenseman who can be a liability in his own end, but the biggest newcomer impact might well come from Nicklas Backstrom, the 19-year-old Swede who was taken fourth overall by the Caps in 2006 and has been compared to a young Peter Forsberg.

The Caps still have holes to fill, and No. 1 goaltender Olaf Kolzig is 37, but they have a significantly better lineup now and should challenge for a playoff spot. Grade: B-plus


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