Caps show some pop

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

All the pre-season talk about the Capitals being the NHL's doormats didn't click with the Maple Leafs on Sunday night in Washington.

If nothing else, expect the Leafs' overall effort to be vastly improved in the back half of the home-and-home set tonight.

"I was quite impressed with how they competed," Leafs winger Tie Domi said. "They come hard and they put it on the line. This is a time when everybody in this city likes to panic, but we can't get caught up in that."

As hard as the Caps may compete, they're still the Washington Capitals. After Calder Trophy candidate Alexander Ovechkin, goalie Olaf Kolzig and solid young defenceman Steve Eminger, there is shallow depth. But Ovechkin, of course, is the type of talent an organization can build around.

"He looks like the real deal," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "He knows how to put the puck in. He had a couple of chances against us and I think we helped him a bit, but he is a smart enough player to get there and get it done."

The popular thinking has Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins in a race for the Calder, and barring injury to one or both of them, one should be named the top rookie.

Domi said Ovechkin reminds him "a little bit of (Pavel) Bure, a little bit of (Teemu) Selanne" but he is just as impressed with the Leafs' youthful contributors.

It has been a long while since the Leafs had a couple of strong rookies up front, but both Alex Steen and Kyle Wellwood were in the top-10 freshman scoring going into last night's games. Both have been admirable without the puck as well.

"They're going to be the future of this team for a long time (along with Matt Stajan)," Domi said. "It's fun to see them mature every day. They bring a lot of life into the dressing room."


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