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In tonight’s pivotal Game 6, the Capitals are entering familiar territory. They will be facing the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road in a must-win scenario. The Capitals fell short last season, in a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions.
The stage is set for the rematch, and the Capitals will be looking to rewrite history. The Capitals are looking to change previous outcomes and they are looking to advance further into the playoffs.
For the Capitals to rewrite history in Game 6, they will need to stay disciplined and they will need to play a simple game. They need to give a complete 60-minute effort and will need to play for each other.
This is the second year of the “two-year window” for the Washington Capitals. It is Stanley Cup or bust for the organization. With plenty of players needing new contracts after this season, GM Brian MacLellan has his hands full this summer, and will need to make critical lineup choices.
The Capitals will not look the same next year, as the salary cap will not permit it. With players like Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Karl Alzner needing new contracts, the Capitals will not be able to retain some of these players.
Many will debate on which players should and should not be kept. One thing is for sure: the Capitals will have to watch every penny they spend during the summer and they will likely not be active in the upcoming free agent market.
IF THE CAPITALS FALL FLAT, IS THIS THE END OF THE ROAD FOR THE CORE PLAYERS?
If the Capitals fall short once again, the Capitals may be in for more significant changes as an organization. The Capitals core group might need a shakeup. There is no suggestion to trade players like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, or Braden Holtby. However, there is the possibility that some long tenured Capitals could be moved.
Since the defensive market is very bare, could someone like John Carlson fetch a hefty return in the trade market? Could a player like Marcus Johansson fetch a solid return via trade? Could a veteran defenseman like Brooks Orpik help a team that has a young defensive core?
Brian MacLellan will not only have to evaluate his players that need new contracts, but he will likely evaluate players that have term left on their current deals. If the Capitals could get a significant haul via trade for one of their core players, it is possible Brian MacLellan could give some current players a change of scenery.
Depending on lineup decisions over the summer, the Capitals could likely still have a competitive team next year and into the future. There is no suggestion for a total “rebuild,” but a re-tool could be a likely scenario. If the core group cannot accomplish the goal of the Stanley Cup, will it be time to change the faces of it?
Every Capitals fan is hoping the club can rewrite history. The fans have watched this team do many great things over the last few seasons. But if the Capitals fall flat and do not re-write history, a roster makeover is likely in store for the club.
By: George Foussekis