Roenick: Talent is 'oozing off of' the Caps ahead of Stanley Cup playoffs

Josh Luckenbaugh
April 10, 2019 - 12:43 pm

The Capitals are beginning their Stanley Cup defense red-hot, winners of five of their final seven regular season games. 

And given how well the Caps are playing, Jeremy Roenick expects them to dispatch of their first round opponents, the Carolina Hurricanes, quite handily. 

"(The Caps have the advantage in) talent and experience and goaltending," Roenick told The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "Carolina's done a great job at creating a buzz and creating an excitement that not only their team has been enjoying, but their fans have been enjoying."

"But when it comes down to it, the talent that is just oozing off of the Washington Capitals roster on the ice — (Braden) Holtby will outdo (Petr) Mrazek, (Alex) Ovechkin will outplay (Sebastian) Aho."

Roenick's only concern for the Caps in this series: complacency. But after last season's Cup run, he doesn't anticipate that being too much of an issue. 

"The only thing that I say is a problem is sometimes Washington will play down to their competition and think they can just lace on the boots and just go out and win with talent. But they found last year that when you play hard and you play that gritty style that you're supposed to play, you win championships."

"It's all between their ears for Washington. They should handle this in about five or six games, but again, they have to have the right attitude."

Additionally, Roenick wants to see Caps head coach Todd Reirden assert himself when his players, including Evgeny Kuznetsov, aren't executing at a high enough level.

"I don't know if (Reirden) is a guy that can push guys' buttons," said Roenick. "Whether he's a stern coach, if he sees something that's happening or that he doesn't like, whether he's going to address it, or how he's going to address it."

"A perfect example: I'm a huge fan of Kuznetsov. I think he's one of the most talented players on the planet. But when he gets playing his loosey-goosey (style), trying to throw really talented passes, which are low-percentage plays through the middle, making bad decisions because he is that talented and turnovers start happening, is Todd Reirden gonna sit Kuzy down and say, 'Hey, listen. You gotta make the high percentage play.'"

"'Dump the puck in and go get it rather than do a spin-o-rama pass at the blue line blind to someone that you think is coming late. Play the game the right way.'"

"But (Reirden)'s done a great job of keeping this team level-headed all year. Nobody's talking about them because they're all talking about Tampa, and I think that's a good thing for the Washington Capitals."

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