Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals - Game 40: Three Questions

USA TODAY Sports

It's Thursday, so it must be Canes/Caps. J.P. from Japers' Rink is in the hot seat as we scout the division leaders in Three Questions.

One of the really bizarre quirks of the lockout-shortened schedule is that the five games between the Hurricanes and Capitals all take place on either Tuesday or Thursday. Well, it's Thursday, so here come the Caps for the final meeting of the season between the two teams. J.P. of Japers' Rink joins us in the hot seat today for Three Questions.

  1. Is it too early to declare the Alex Ovechkin on right wing experiment a success? Do you notice any difference in how Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson have adjusted to compensate for Ovechkin's new role?

    I don't think it's too early to deem the flip a success, no. After a bit of a rocky transition, his scoring and, just as importantly, his shot totals are way up, and when you're talking about Alex Ovechkin's even-strength game, what more is there? Of course, his two Swedish linemates deserve credit here as well, as they've often been the ones allowing Ovechkin to do more without the puck. The trio has the Caps' top line humming along as well as it has in years, at least since Mike Knuble was on the right side and Bruce Boudreau was behind the bench.

  2. What was the general reaction among the fanbase to the Martin Erat trade? Was there something concerning that George McPhee saw in Filip Forsberg's development that made him expendable?

    It was a pretty mixed reaction, probably a bit more unfavorable than favorable. But there are points to be made on each side, for and against, and it'll be quite some time before we know whether or not it was a good trade (Erat's current injury couldn't have been foreseen, of course, but it isn't helping things). I do think that the team had soured a little on Forsberg (I don't think that was just spin), and feels good about it's mid-range future down the right side (especially with Ovechkin's transition being a success), but there's still a sense that they could have gotten more in return for a kid who's still a blue-chipper, though Erat should be a good fit on this team for what Adam Oates wants to do. It's a cop-out and cliche, but "time will tell."

  3. Not really a question as much as a challenge: in 200 words or less, make your case for Alex Ovechkin to win the Hart Trophy. Go.

    Without Ovechkin, the Caps would be solidly among the worst teams in the League and not be in position to win yet another Southeast Division title. No player has meant more to his team than the Caps' captain (there's no recent Hart, Pearson, Smythe, Ross and Calder winner on the roster to cushion the landing if he misses time), and almost no one has carried a bigger load than 8 has since the team's dreadful start. But really, the award is Sid's.

    (That was only 82 words - can I type "How's the view, Sasha?" 29 times to fill this section out?)

    Ed. note: J.P. be trollin' so hard.
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