Copper and Blue: It seems to be a common theme in hockey circles that the Capitals are in a position to contend for a Stanley Cup. Do you think it is realistic to see this team there come the end of playoffs?
Japers Rink: I definitely think it's realistic. This is the best Caps team we've seen - on paper, at least - in a long time; they've got a solid defense, a stacked top-six and an awesome goaltender (to say nothing of a guy named Alex Ovechkin who is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon). There's no reason to think they can't be one of the top two or three teams in the Eastern Conference by the time the playoffs roll around, or that they can't be the team to come out of the East and contend for the Cup.
That said, Caps fans always have a tough time reconciling the "great on paper" teams with the fact that this team hasn't been out of the second round in almost two decades. So yes, the way they're coached, the way they're constructed and the way they're playing gives them a chance to contend... but you'll forgive us if we wait for the other shoe to drop!
C&B: In the offseason, the Capitals made the move to acquire TJ Oshie from the St. Louis Blues. How has he played so far for the Caps?
JR: Oshie has been a really great addition to the team. There was some question over the summer as to whether he would be a better fit on the second line, with Justin Williams (who has also been very good) slotting in next to Alex Ovechkin and, at the time, Nicklas Backstrom. After seeing Oshie with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, however, and seeing what he's been able to do on the power play, that's no longer a question - he's got great chemistry with the team's top line and has already picked up five points in his first six games. Add in the fact that he's insanely fun to watch, and it's hard not to like the acquisition so far.
C&B: Former Edmonton Oiler Taylor Chorney has made the Capitals as one of your bottom pairing defensemen. What did he do to earn a one-year contract in the offseason, and a spot on the roster?
JR: I think he earned the initial contract because he stepped in and played well on a banged-up Penguins blueline down the stretch and in their playoff series last year, and with the Caps losing a bit of depth on the blueline over the summer, he was a good candidate to come in and either add to the pipeline in Hershey or compete for the 6-7D spot. He earned a spot on the roster in part because he had a good training camp and preseason, and in part because...well, there weren't too many other options for that last spot.
That sounds mean, and it's not meant to detract from what he did in camp or what he's done so far in the regular season, because he's actually been decent, if unspectacular (which, let's be honest, is kind of what you want from a 6-7 defenseman). The organization has a couple of up-and-coming defensive prospects that they're very excited about, like Madison Bowey, but none of them appear to be ready to make the leap to the NHL just yet; in the meantime, they can turn to a veteran like Chorney to hold down that bottom-pair role and do a good job in it, and he has.