As the dust settles from the Capitals’ amazing run to the Stanley Cup, the campaign for “back-to-back” begins to take shape. Now is a good time to bring context to what we witnessed during the electrifying 2017-2018 season.
• Team chemistry clicked in at precisely the right time.
• Down 0-2 to the Blue Jackets in the first round, the fan base demonstrated that it, too, could shake off the curse. [Be honest—didn’t a few doubts initially kick-in?]
• Even with a myriad of individual standout performances, it was still an overall team effort. I bristle when I hear terms such as “secondary scoring” or “role player.” It takes a village of hockey players to raise the Cup.
• Alex Ovechkin’s grit and fierce determination. His status among hockey royalty is now secure for all time—not that we ever doubted it.
• Evgeny Kuznetsov continued his ascent. He is the real deal. Watch him next year as he takes his place among the sport’s elite.
• Who amongst us was not encouraged by the performance of the youngsters and newcomers?
• If you ever need a role model for your kids, continue to look no further than Nicklas Backstrom.
• Braden Holtby demonstrated that it is not only opponents whose goaltenders “stand on their heads” in April, May and June. “The Save”—two words needing no explanation.
• We regained the steps of the National Portrait Gallery—not the trash-talking interlopers who wrongly thought they had implanted an enemy foothold in our territory.
• I will never forget the dazzling goal by an outstretched Devante Smith-Pelly. Arguably, the turning point in the decisive Game 5 of the finals, which ultimately became the turning point in the series.
• The investment in T.J. Oshie paid huge dividends, thus validating the organization’s long term vision.
• John Carlson proved that he is a keeper worthy of a long-term contract. Congratulations John.
• Broadcasters Joe Beninati-Craig Laughlin/John Walton-Ken Sabourin continued to shine. Beninati’s and Walton’s roles as master of ceremonies for the parade finale were particularly masterful.
• Give it up for the Capitals organization—especially the fan-facing team responsible for PR, marketing, sales, image shaping, and social media.
• Despite the growing myth to the contrary, the DMV knows how to win. And win with class. No riots, looting, couch burning, or mattress torching.
• Try not to forget the Capitals that have gone before without an opportunity to drink from the Cup.
Yes. For the first time the Caps won the Cup. But remember that 2018-2019 will be the first time they must defend the Cup. And the nucleus is in place to do just that.
Join me in wishing Barry Trotz and his new team success and a very strong and awesome second place.
By Jim McCarthy