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Washington Capitals


Highly under-rated on the SNES, the Washington Capitals are a team that brings forth many crucal skills and strengths at both ends of the ice along with the ability to counter any style of play offered by the opposing team. Thus, while not necessarily the most balanced or "user-friendly" team, Washington is one that can consistently deliver solid performances and provide more than a match for the most elite teams in the game.


Forwards


Ridley-Khristich-Bondra

Consistency, consistency, consistency: the hallmark of Mike Ridley. 212 lbs., 65 Agi/Spd/Off Awr/Shot Acc/Stk. Ridley's skills are not necessarily considered elite in comparison to the top players in the game, but his strengths allow him to do a number of things adequately. With his weight, 55 defensive awareness, and 45 checking, Ridley is Washington's best threat on the forecheck and is no stranger to laying out the opposition with effective body checks mostly due to his weight. Offensively, Ridley's speed, agility, and shot accuracy are strong enough to allow him to lead the rush up ice and score effectively in deking or one-timer situations.


For Dmitri Khristich, the name of the game is Sniping. If a user can get Khristich open in prime scoring areas, he is going to cash in on a large majority of his chances with a dangerous 65/100 shot. In fact, a large percentage of Khristich's output will likely have to be generated through long distance dart throwing for two reasons. Firstly, Khristich's skating is average at best (55 Agi/Spd). Thus, he is not very effective in most situations when going 1 on 1 with defenders in deking and dangling situations. The second fact to consider is Khristich's 196 lb. weight. In short, Khristich is not fast/agile enough to consistently slip by defenders ala Selanne or Gartner, nor is he heavy enough to withstand checks and power his way through the defense like Linden, Andreychuk, or Lindros.


In a manner similar to fellow Eastern European Khristich, Peter Bondra's speed (100) is the one trait that most clearly defines his game. Along with 65 Agility/Off Awr/Shot Acc., Bondra has the offensive skills to go off and have some big games offensively. He is smart enough to get in a good position to score on one timers and his shot accuracy is effective from a decent majority of scoring areas (provided he doesn't skate out of them too quickly). Make no mistake though, Bondra's speed is what gives Washington a true edge offensively on some occasions. Not only can Bondra move the puck out of the defensive zone quickly and effectively, but if he gains some separation from defenders, he can create a large number of breakaway chances if a user can get the puck to him.


This line is all about mitigating incompatibilities. Khristich gets the nod at Center not just because of his shot ratings, but also because placing Ridley or Bondra at Center could cause other problems. Though Ridley is a good option at Center in the vein of Linden or Muller, placing Khristich on the Wing with his slower speed would likely hamper Washington's breakout and rush while also giving him less room to utilize his shooting ability. The effect would be similar with Bondra at Center, though the user would gain a very strong 1 on 1 option down the middle that could evoke similarities to Teemu Selanne. However, with Bondra's slightly lower offensive awareness and shot accuracy, it may be asking him to do a bit too much. Ultimately, if a balance or otherwise desired look that suits a coach can be reached, this trio of forwards can start to pile up the goals in a hurry and rival even the most effective offenses in the game.


On the bench, Washington has a few decent forwards to choose from that could lend some help in injury, substitution, or penalty situations. Though not much to write home about defensively, Kelly Miller and his 65 Agi/Spd/Stk is the team's best option for keeping an effective pass receiver on the ice and maintaining the pace of the game on the rush. Michal Pivonka won't make much of a dent on the score sheet or on the bodies of the oppostion, but his 65 stick handling must be considered if further substitutions must be made. Lastly, Pat Elyniuk's 85 shot accuracy can allow the Caps to keep a skilled sniper on the ice if shooting ability is of the utmost importance.


Defensemen


Iafrate-Hatcher

What is there not to love about this pairing? Two massive heavyweights who can throw down the most devastating body checks in the game, play solid defense, and contribute positively on offense. 'Big Al' (228 lbs.) and 'Big Kev' (236 lbs.) possess some major similarities in terms of checking (65) and awareness (65 Off/Def). In short, both players can knock down almost any player in the game at will, withstand punishing hits, and can be trusted to generally be in the proper positions on both sides of the ice. What separates the two are Iafrate's slightly better skill set that undoubtedly makes him one of the best defensemen in the game. For a heavyweight, Al's skating (65 Agi/Spd) allows him to move the puck up ice effectively and start the attack if necessary. From there, Al possesses a booming 100/45 shot that can be a major threat in one-timer or slapshot situations. For Hatcher, his skating is more modest at a mere 55 for Agi/Spd, but like Iafrate, he is a threat offensively with a powerful 85/45 shot that must be respected if he finds an opening on the ice. Ultimately, Iafrate and Hatcher may just be the best overall pairing in the game due to how effectively they can play on both sides of the ice as well as conform to the style of play of almost any coach that uses Washington.


There are 2 defensive options on Washington's bench that are ideal should Iafrate or Hatcher leave the game for any reason. First, and certainly the better of the two, is Calle Johansson. Aside from his weight (only 212 lbs.) and shooting ability (65/35), Johansson plays in something of a similar mold to Iafrate and Hatcher. With 65 defensive awareness and 65/55 agility and speed ratings, he can be counted on to play strong, conservative defense and occasionally lead the offensive attack up-ice. Despite a slightly reduced checking rating (55), his weight still allows him to be physical and take the body effectively enough. Though not as much of an offensive threat due to shooting and 55 offensive awareness, Johansson is a competent defenseman who can provide adequate play off the bench and certainly won't cripple the team's overall effectiveness.

The second option is the far-lighter 188 lb. Sylvain Cote. Though Cote also possesses a decent 55 checking rating, his weight reduces his effectiveness in playing a physical game. Elsewhere, his awareness (55 Off/Def), skating (55 Agi/Spd), and shooting (55
Acc/45 Pwr) indicate that he is nothing extraordinary in terms of skill, but isn't at a total loss for ability. The only other noteworthy rating is a lower 55 stickhandling rating in comparison to 65 for Iafrate, Hatcher, and Johansson. Thus, a coach must be aware that Cote may fumble some pucks from time to time and reduce Washington's offensive effectiveness on the breakout and rush.


Summary

A competent offense and very strong defense ranks the Washington Capitals as the front-runner for 'dark horse' team of the game. The trio of Ridley, Khristich, and Bondra brings forth all the necessary skills and talents necessary for a successful offense: speed, shooting, physicality, and finesse. Iafrate and Hatcher can outright dominate the opposition physically, yet still be able to play a smarter, conservative defensive game if necessary. Add their offensive abilities to those already on the table via the forwards, and you have a team that is just as competitive as many of the elite teams in the game and one that can most definitely be used with great success.



Edited by Oilers442
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Excellent write up on the Capitals,I think I won snes B with this team and hatcher n iafrate were unstoppable...or maybe it was when i lost to grayto in snes A finals...actually i think it was xot82,kinda missin snes haha

Edited by hokkeefan
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thank you.

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Thanks for the writeup.

Maybe I am underrating the forward group, but to me:

Bondra is a guy that should be good, but I've never been able to use him effectively. To me, it doesn't feel like he's a 100 Speed, maybe because of his lack of agility.

Khristich has a nice shot, but with a lack of speed and size, he's tough to use.

Ridley is kind of vanilla.

The defense is really nice. Iafrate is easily a top 5 defender in the league (up there with Bourque, Stevens and Coffey). Hatcher is a beast, although a bit slow for my liking.

Overall, the Caps are very similar to NJ in my mind, The Devils also possess a big, strong defensive pairing (Stevens/Fetisov) and a forward group that has some deficiencies and lacks a true gamebreaker.

Overall, I think the Caps are middle of the pack team, but can always compete with the best teams due to their beastly defense.

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