USA Today's Ted Montgomery is asking, analyzing and answering a handful of burning questions heading into the 2008-09 season, and his last query focuses on the Caps:
Will the Washington Capitals build on last year's success and continue to improve, perhaps even enough to have a long playoff run?
The case for: The Caps are now one of the most exciting teams in the league, and should have a fine season. Having Michael Nylander healthy again and bringing back Sergei Fedorov shores up the center position, with Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom providing the offensive fireworks. Mike Green is just coming into his own as a premier defenseman. This team is loaded, and should sail through the regular season without too much trouble.
The case against: Is Jose Theodore the answer in goal? And which version of Theodore will show up in Washington? If he struggles like he did for a few seasons in Colorado, the Caps could be in trouble. If he plays as well as he did at times last season, they should be OK in goal. The Caps are rolling the dice on this one.
My verdict: The Caps will win a couple of rounds in the playoffs, but will not make it past the conference final. Their time is coming, and soon.