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It has been a common problem with the Capitals over the past few years. The Capitals have been a favorite to win the Stanley Cup for a few seasons now. Their common roadblock to the Cup is when they have had to face quick skating teams.
Over the past few years, the Capitals have struggled in the playoffs against fast players and quick teams. Their playoff losses have come at the hands of Pittsburgh, NY Rangers, Montreal, and Tampa Bay. All of those clubs have quick skaters in various spots in their respective lineups.
In the Capitals latest playoff loss to the Penguins, the Penguins took the series over with their speed in their depth lines. Penguin forwards Carl Hagelin and Conor Sheary were noticeable players against the Capitals in the regular season and in playoffs. Hagelin and Sheary are not the biggest skaters, as they both are under 6 feet tall. But they are speedsters that can push the puck up the ice quickly, and they can both generate odd-man rushes into the offensive zone. Here are some of their best moments from the playoffs:
This is not the first time where the Capitals have been burnt by speedy opposing players. Let’s go down Memory Lane and take a look at other speedy NHL players that have burned the Capitals in the past:
Dominic Moore (Montreal Canadiens and NY Rangers)
Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens)
Sean Bergenheim (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning and NY Rangers)
Chris Kreider (NY Rangers)
Some of the players listed above are no longer active in the NHL, but these players mentioned have given the Capitals fits in their horrid playoff past. The main thing these players also have in common is that they all have a nose for the net.
SPEED IS KEY
Brian MacLellan noted during his press conference on Monday that the Capitals struggled at times against teams with speed. He noted games against the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins to where the Capitals looked slow.
MacLellan said that he plans to re-tool the Capitals bottom-six forward group. This group was not productive enough against the Penguins in the 2016 NHL playoffs.
What are MacLellan’s options moving forward? Does he have any options within the organization for 2016-17? Where can the Capitals find some extra speed, so they can keep pace with the speedy teams next year?
Part 2 of this article will take a look at some active NHL players the Capitals should target via trade or free agency this offseason. It will also cover some potential in-house options for the Capitals.
Stay tuned for more updates!
By: George Foussekis