The Washington Capitals welcomed the sixth coach of the George McPhee era. This one is hall of fame inductee Adam Oates. With no real training camp or exhibition period, the Capitals were trying to absorb their new system for at leas the first month of the season. Among his other innovations was moving Left and Right Wing All-Star Alex Ovechkin from the former to the latter. The first half of the season was not pretty.

With guile, wisdom and no doubt some threats Oates got the team to the playoffs. Since last season, the Capitals have waived good-bye to Roman Hamerlik, Tom Poti, Mike Ribeiro and a few other well known faces. Perhaps the best signing this off season was the Capitals picking up Mikhail Grabovski. As compelling in terms of addition is having Brooks Laich and Mike Green both entering the season healthy.

Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson and the crew will open the season with a roadtrip to the windy city where they’ll get to watch the Chicago Blackhawks raise their newest banner. After returning home for a game they will hows the Calgary Flames who start the season without Jarome Iginla for the first time in well over a decade. The Dallas Stars will be their next port of call and they’ll face Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and the revamped forward group in the Lonestar state. Back home they will have showdowns with Eric Staal and his Carolina Hurricanes and Gabriel Landeskog’s Colorado Avalanche.

Number of days 1-5: 11

Number of cities: 3

Best opponent: Chicago Blackhawks

Weakest opponent: Colorado Avalanche

Home games: 3

Projected points: 7

The Metropolitan division will be brutally tough.  I have no doubt Adam Oates will do everything he can to motivate the team and let them jump on the division lead early. They don’t have any really stiff competition other than the Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and the Chicago Blackhawks. While the Dallas Stars are no longer pushovers, and even the Avalanche aren’t a gimmie, this is a better team than four of their first five opponents on paper. They need to prove it on the ice.

It is no secret that Tyler Myers had a sensational rookie season. It is kind of hard not to notice a defenseman winning the Calder Trophy. It’s even harder when that lanky adolescent is compared to nearly every Norris trophy winner in the last quarter century. Unfortunately for pride of Houston Texas his career is currently on a Jonathan Cheechoo like trajectory. His point production has gone down each year of his career. Despite an enormous second contract he has been scratched twice already this season. In 12 games he has just 1 goal, and is a team worst minus nine, 30% worse than the next nearest player.

The question is what is to be done? A player who has the raw ability to walk into the NHL and win the Calder trophy especially as a defenseman, and then gets worse points to one of three things. The first is injury, which did happen, but after his sophomore season. The second is motivation, that is unfortunately not something that can really be measured unless a player comes into camp grossly out of shape and doesn’t participate in off ice conditioning. The third, is environment, specifically coaching.

The Buffalo Sabres have been a mediocre team for a full generation. The list of players they lost to free agency includes names like Danny Briere the point per playoff game stud, and trades the most recent of which was the indefensible dumping of Derek Roy for Ott,others you can name, and if you can’t Sabres fans can sing you their woe. Myers own mentor, now a Devil, is another one of those players lost to free agency or bad trades. So do the Sabres import a mentor for Myers? If Vishnovsky becomes available, is he the right guy for the job of reforming the Sabres “franchise” blueliner? Or maybe they make a move for a player like Kuba, or Girardi.

Or, is Myers in need of a fresh work address? Would exposure to John Carlson, Carl Alzner, and Roman Hamerlik be the cure for what ails him? Equally intriguing is what sort of player he could develop into if taken under the wing of guys like Pietreangelo, Chara, or hell, nearly all of the senior members of the Kings blueline. Rob Scuderi has won Cups in two very, very different systems, Drew Doughty is a phenomenal talent and still improving, Matt Greene too has the chops to help stabilize the tail spinning 22 year old.

Whatever is, wherever the repairs start, they need to find a way to get the youngsters confidence back in one way or another. They can start with his defensive work, or get him back in touch with the offensive abilities that so intrigued the NHL not long ago, and I leave that to whoever is lucky enough to work with him. The only must is a mentor.

Some guys spend time on Causeway St and are soon forgotten. Some are long remembered, not always with affection. Here’s a few still playing somewhere.

One time running mate of Patrice Bergeron, Marco Sturm has had a tumultuous couple of years. He was sent to the Kings for future considerations when he came off the injured reserve here. He didn’t last very long. He was sent to the Capitals and made it to the end of the season, In the off season as part of Vancouvers sincere flattery, he was picked up by the Canucks. Just a few games into the season he was shipped south to the suddenly sexy Florida Panthers. He hasn’t been hugely productive this year, but did manage to score against the Sharks last night.

Brandon Bochenski, he who was once traded for Marco Sturm’s new teammate Kris Versteeg is not in the NHL right now. While I’m sure he’d like to see the NHL ice again someday, I don’t think he’ll complain about his current circumstances much. He’s currently on over a point per game pace and leading his KHL team Astana Barys, as he did last season. He’s playing with former AHL defensemen of the year, and one more former member of the Black and Gold Kevin Dallman who has also earned top defenseman honors in the KHL.

At 27, former UNH standout and South Boston native Kevin Regan finds himself in his second year playing in Italy. After a run of injuries, and the rise of Tim Thomas, Regan found himself out of the loop and needing to look elsewhere for a pay check. He’s still young enough he could find himself in one of the leagues with better competition, including back here in North America.

If it weren’t for Roman Hamerlik, and of all people Mike Knuble (another former Bruin) Dennis Wideman might be permanently in the dog house of whoever is lucky enough to be coach and scapegoat in chief in Washington. He’s got a less bad plus minus than only those two players. This is of course his second stop since he last pulled on a Bruins uniform. I’m sure everyone who’s ever seen Mike Green and Dennis Wideman play (not to mention the playoff contributions of Hamerlik) will be shocked to know the Capitals are 25th in goals against.

Drafted in the first round of the 2003 draft, steady presence on the Boston blueline thereafter, Mark Stuart was well loved by Bruins fans. Tough as nails, healthy for most of his time here and the man responsible for getting members of the armed services seats in the garden at no cost to them he showed all American class at all times. Jettisoned to Atlanta-now-Winnipeg, he’s 3rd in total ice time for Jets defenders, and leads the team in shorthanded time on iced. This season he’s already racked up three goals, and is currently on pace for ten goals, thirteen assists and more than two hundred each hits and blocked shots. The Bruins visit the Jets on the sixth.

Did you know:

Former Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart has a higher career shooting percentage than current Bruins captain Zdeno Chara?