For many seasons in the Alex Ovechkin era, the Washington Capitals have always been able to make the postseason. Up until the last postseason, the Capitals previous postseasons always ended in disappointment.
The Capitals chased the Stanley Cup for many years, finally breaking through in 2018. The mindset for the Capitals was to get over hurdles, especially the second-round hurdle. Up until last June, the Capitals were labeled “choke artists” and there were many that believed that generational star Alex Ovechkin could not deliver a Stanley Cup to Washington.
The Capitals will have a new outlook this year. They are now going to be the team that goes from the “hunters” to the “hunted.” When the Capitals visit the 30 other NHL venues this fall and winter, they will draw plenty of attention as the defending Champions.
In the 82-game schedule, the Capitals will become the team that is “hunted” every night. As the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Capitals are the team that will be the measuring stick for all 30 other clubs. Every team that they face will want to try to dethrone the Capitals. In every game during the 82-game stretch, the Capitals are going to get the best effort that every opposing club has to offer. All 30 other opposing clubs are going to circle the calendar when the Washington Capitals come to town.
AVOID THE STANLEY CUP HANGOVER
As the Capitals embrace preseason action now, the Capitals must leave the partying of the summer behind. The regular season is right around the corner and hockey is back underway.
The Capitals must bring their “A” game every night. They must bring a complete effort to match the opposing team’s level of intensity. The Capitals need to have the mindset that they are the ones being chased.
STARS LEADING THE WAY
To avoid the dreaded early Stanley Cup hangover, the Capitals stars must lead the way. From Alex Ovechkin to Evgeny Kuznetsov to John Carlson, the Capitals best players must perform like the Capitals best players.
This commitment must start at the beginning. The Capitals cannot afford to start off the regular season on a low note. Every game is important and every point is critical. If the Capitals stars come to play, the Capitals should win some key games in the month of October.
THE NEW COACHING STAFF APPROACH
Todd Reirden must find a way to get his players to buy in to the different approach for the season. Reirden and his coaching staff must find ways to have the team prepared throughout the long schedule. The coaching staff must be ready and willing to make adjustments on the fly, and must continue to play toward the Capitals team strengths.
While some scheme adjustments will likely be made, the approach should remain the same. The Capitals now have a winning culture, and the coaching staff must get all of the players to buy into that. There is a new standard of winning, and every single player and coach must live up to that new standard in order to have continual success.
By: George Foussekis