After back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy seasons, the Washington Capitals are likely going to take a bit of a step back in 2017-18. With many departures over the summer, the Capitals are going to have plenty of fresh faces in their opening night lineup on October 5.
With plenty of new faces, the Capitals will have a different look. The Capitals will have some youth and inexperience in various parts of their lineup.
Since the Capitals will have new players in their lineup, it will likely present some new challenges for the club. What challenges and concerns could the Capitals face in 2017-18?
With Marcus Johansson now in New Jersey and Justin Williams back in Carolina, the Capitals lost 2 pieces of their second line puzzle. Andre Burakovsky is going to be expected to produce some more offense in his new expanded role. The other spot on that line will likely either be claimed by Tom Wilson or Jakub Vrana. While both of those players are still young, both will need to contribute some offense to help give the Capitals a balanced attack.
The Capitals fell a bit short of their goal the last number of seasons. Most fans have heard of the Stanley Cup hangover that happens to Cup-winning teams the season after winning the Stanley Cup. Sometimes, teams that win a lot of games in the postseason can find themselves in a bit of a hangover at the beginning of the following season. Since the Capitals were bounced out of the playoffs early by their arch-rival Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals could have a bit of the playoff hangover loom at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. The Capitals could have a very slow start to their regular season in 2017-18.
INEXPERIENCE ON THE BLUELINE
The Capitals will likely open the regular season with as many as two rookie defensemen on their blueline. Some of the players that are looking to make the big jump include Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Tyler Lewington, and Connor Hobbs. These players have not seen any NHL action, but they could all be ready to take the next step in their professional careers. With some inexperience on the Capitals blueline forthcoming, there will likely be plenty of rookie errors. With inexperience comes a learning curve for the Capitals up-and-coming prospects.
LIVING UP TO THE CONTRACT EXTENSIONS
There were a few Capitals that earned big, long-term extensions with the club over the summer – Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, and Dmitry Orlov. These players are all expected to carry the Capitals well into the future, and they are expected to maintain a level of consistency with their play.
Since the Capitals will likely see a drop in offensive production, they will need to limit their passive play. They will need to close out and win the tight games. In order to close out tight games, the Capitals will need to stay aggressive for 60 minutes. They need to find ways to generate shots on net, and not go half a period without taking a shot. If they remain aggressive for a whole game, they will still be able to pile up the wins.
By: George Foussekis