There is a new bench boss with Todd Reirden. There is a new 4th line center in the lineup. There is a new backup netminder with Pheonix Copley. But many of the faces from the Washington Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup Championship remain the same.
The Capitals clinched their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2018. The Capitals organization has been tormented with disappointment for many years, but were finally able to get over the second-round playoff hump.
This has been a process over the last number of seasons to get to this point. The Capitals adopted a strong blueprint to win hockey games, and most importantly, make the playoffs consistently. What is this hockey blueprint all about? How can the Capitals maintain success with this blueprint?
Let’s dive in to the areas where the Capitals are deep within the organization:
The Capitals are deep up the middle of the ice. With Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, and Lars Eller as the top-3 pivots, the Capitals have a strong centre-ice. The Capitals have a strong combination of centres that can do many different things. With Backstrom and Kuznetsov, the Capitals have 2 elite playmaking centres, that can both generate offense. Eller is a strong defensive minded centre, and is utilized for penalty killing.
The Capitals have assembled a quality group of defensemen. John Carlson is the top offensive producer for the Capitals blueline, as he set career records with 15 goals and 68 points in 2017-18.
Matt Niskanen is the veteran of this current top-four group, and he brings a stable presence on the back end. Niskanen can be used in all situations on the ice for the Capitals.
Dmitry Orlov has been able to complete his game for the Capitals in recent seasons. While Orlov likes to push the puck up the ice, he has progressed with his defensive game and has become very reliable in that area of the ice.
While Braden Holtby did not have the typical regular season in 2017-18, the Capitals have a strong netminder that is fully capable of putting the team on his back. Holtby rebounded in a big way for the Capitals in the postseason.
While Philipp Grubauer is no longer in the picture, the Capitals are hopeful that they can receive similar production from Pheonix Copley as the new backup. Copley has had plenty of experience at the AHL level, but his NHL resume is small.
THE CAPITALS ARE STRONG IN KEY AREAS
With strong forward depth up the middle of the ice, defensive depth on the blueline, and strong goaltending, the Capitals have a strong blueprint for success. There is no reason why the Capitals cannot remain in contention in upcoming seasons. The Capitals have all of the ingredients needed for additional success.
By: George Foussekis