Capitals fans have been treated to a fantastic on-ice product in 2015-16. This Capitals club certainly is one of the best (if not the best) assembled club in franchise history. From top to bottom, this Capitals club is deep at every position on the ice. There are little weaknesses with this Stanley Cup contending Capitals team.
With 32 wins in 42 games played, the Capitals have built a comfortable lead in the Metropolitan Division, and they have not had any long losing streaks. Every player on the ice has a role to fill, and Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz has made sure that everyone knows the team structure and system.
THE PERFECT BLEND
This Capitals club has the perfect mix of players within the organization. The Capitals have young, up-and-coming stars such as Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, and Nate Schmidt who continue to get better and better as the season progresses. All of the young players they have in their lineup have taken major strides in their development.
The Capitals core group of players like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Marcus Johansson, and Braden Holtby are all playing some of their best hockey in their careers. These players are relied on night in and night out for the club’s success. These players are the Capitals homegrown talent, and they are the cornerstones of the franchise.
To top off the Capitals mix of young up-and-coming stars and core players, the Capitals have a wealth of experience from their veterans. Justin Williams, Brooks Orpik, Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich, and Mike Richards round out the Capitals veteran group of players. These veterans have played a ton of NHL games in their respective NHL careers. There is plenty of playoff experience and winning within this group. Stanley Cups, Gold Medals, Calder Cups can all be found within the Capitals veteran group.
Having a quality veteran group that has won at every level of hockey is very important to have. Veteran players like Justin Williams and Brooks Orpik can take younger players like Andre Burakovsky and Nate Schmidt under their wing and can help them grow as hockey players. Hockey players learning from one another helps build team chemistry.
BALANCED CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FORWARDS
Halfway through the 2015-16 season, the Capitals have a very good balanced attack. They have 7 players who all have 10 or more goals – Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Jason Chimera.
With this balanced scoring attack, the Capitals have weapons on every line. The Capitals do not necessarily have to depend on Alex Ovechkin to score a goal every night like in years past. With push from all 4 lines, the Capitals can score a lot of goals every game.
The Capitals have built up a surplus of good defensive depth. Many Capitals teams in the Ovechkin era have not been deep on the blueline. GM Brian MacLellan has solved this recurring problem for the Capitals over the past couple of summers.
Over the past 2 summers, MacLellan has signed players like Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, and Taylor Chorney, who have boosted the Capitals defensive depth. Orpik and Niskanen play valuable minutes for the Capitals, while Chorney has proven to be a quality third pairing defenseman.
GREAT COACHING STAFF
Barry Trotz is one of the most successful and most dedicated coaches in the NHL today. He has built a family atmosphere inside the Capitals dressing room. The players are tight, and they stand up for one another on the rink.
Trotz is one of the most respected coaches around the NHL. He gets the most out of his players. He helped build the Nashville Predators organization from scratch, and has elevated the Washington Capitals back to elite status.
By George Foussekis