In the 2009-10 season, the Capitals were the most dominant hockey team in the entirety of the NHL. Finishing with 121 points, a 54-15-13 record, and the President’s Trophy for having the best record in the NHL. They won 14 straight games from January 13th to February 7th. Boasting four young stars in Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, and Alex Semin, the Caps were a force to be reckoned with. It seemed that the Caps were the unanimous Stanley Cup favorites, and rightfully so.
Then-head coach Bruce Boudreau had a roster that was filled with offensive weapons in forwards such as Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Mike Knuble, and Tomas Fleischmann, and defensemen such as Green, and Tom Poti. His goaltender of choice was veteran Jose Theodore; who won 30 games. The DMV area had been buried in the worst snowfall in years. Yet, during those snow-filled months, Caps fans trekked to Chinatown to see their beloved Caps dominate game-after-game. But the Capitals, as every diehard fan knows, hit a roadblock when their Stanley Cup aspirations were spoiled by the Montreal Canadiens in the first-round of the playoffs.
Five seasons later, Boudreau is now the coach in Anaheim, and Backstrom, Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Jason Chimera are the only players left that played for the Caps in that remarkable season (Chimera was acquired via trade, Alzner and Carlson were called up from Hershey). However, Ovechkin is still a perennial 50-goal scorer, and Backstrom is one of the most underrated players in the NHL; albeit one of the best players. Things have certainly changed for the guys in red, but they are once again true contenders for the Stanley Cup. Which leads me to one question: will the Caps ever win the President’s Trophy again?
Easier said than done, the Caps have at least a chance. They finished second in the Metropolitan division with 101 points, twelve behind the league-leading New York Rangers, and finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, nine behind the second-place Montreal Canadiens last season. So they certainly came within reach of that this past season. But teams have improved significantly within the Metropolitan division.
Barry Trotz’ coaching style is one that worked wonders with the Caps last season, albeit after a period of adjustment at the beginning of the season. With the players fully understanding their roles, the Caps could come out of the gate hitting on all cylinders.
By Michael Fleetwood