Metropolitan Division, check. Eastern Conference, check. President’s Trophy, check.
What is sizing up to be a rather special season for the Washington Capitals has been a fun ride (so far). There has been plenty of exciting wins, some tense games, and a handful of lessons-learned. Capitals fans near and far have reveled in the facts that Alex Ovechkin can still sling pucks, Braden Holtby is pretty adept at stopping them, Nick Backstrom knows how to dish, and Evgeny Kuznetsov makes great sauce. There is also the supporting cast of Capitals, many of whom are a lot more than just role players. There’s that Justin Williams fellow who has brought a brand of veteran leadership and work ethic Capitals fans haven’t seen since the Mike Knuble days. We’ve marveled in the scoring touch, and gritty play of TJ Oshie. There’s also been flashes of brilliance (and steady leadership) from the blue line; as the team gets consistent play from Alzner, Orpik, Niskanen, and (a healthy Carlson). This folks, is a pretty deep and well-balanced team.
But can they win it all..? There is only ONE GOAL of all NHL teams, NHL players, and NHL fans; win the Stanley Cup. Aside from some marginal home-ice advantage (to win the Cup you’ve got to win road games too!) the President’s Trophy gets you nothing but a pat on the back for a nice 82-game campaign. Who remembers 2009-2010, and that debacle of a 7-game series loss to Montreal (and the hot-handed Halak)? The Capitals spent all kinds of energy celebrating how good that regular season was, only to forget how to score in the post-season.
Going into the 2015-2016 season the Washington Capitals were NOT odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup (the Blackhawks and NY Rangers were both 5-1 favorites). The Capitals were 20-1 courtesy of VegasInsider.com (if you’re a betting person). If sports gambling is illegal where you’re reading this, thanks for stopping by and Let’s Go Caps.
The rest of you may like to lay a wager down every-once-in-a-while and here are your current odds (thanks for sticking around):
Right now, those formerly 20-1 Washington Capitals are the clear-cut Vegas favorite to win hockey’s greatest prize. At less than 4-1 (13/4 specifically) the Capitals are outpacing some pretty stiff competition.
Washington 13/4 (3.25:1, if you’re fractionally challenged)
St. Louis 7/1
Los Angeles 15/2 (7.5:1)
San Jose 13/1
Tampa Bay 15/1
New York (Rangers) 16/1
That’s your top ten contenders for the greatest glory in professional hockey. Please bet accordingly, and remember everything in life is a risk. For us Capitals fans, the risk of spending money is paltry compared to actually winning the Cup. I’m not going to rush out to buy a shamefully tacky “President’s Trophy 2015-16” t-shirt (which sadly are a real thing); but I will be investing a life’s savings in Stanley swag if my life’s greatest dream comes true. If you’re like me you’ve been a Capitals fan all your life. I’ve spent countless thousands of dollars on season tickets, road travel (and tickets), jerseys (old school, sea-foam blue flying eagles, Winter Classics, and red rocking current kits). Let’s not even count the amount of Verizon Center (and local DC bar) beers and food I’ve shoved in my C-A-P-S shouting pie-hole over the years.
So this little wager I put on my favorite team to win it all (I got in a 9-1 back in December) will pay out very little compared to the joy and life affirming relief of capturing hockey’s one true prize. The playoffs are a second season, a gauntlet, a well-designed “Hunger Games” elimination where sixteen enter and one leaves alive.
By Scott Zweibel