Photo: Washington Capitals
It was a rather disappointing spring in 2019 for the Washington Capitals. The Capitals won the Metropolitan Division for the fourth straight season, but were bounced by the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While the Capitals celebrated with the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Capitals will aim to get back and deeper into the postseason in 2020.
The Washington Capitals have a strong core of experienced players. These players have been through many playoff battles, and have experienced the excitement and heartbreak the playoffs can provide.
Despite a short spring, the Capitals are bound to be back in playoff contention for 2019-20. Here are five reasons why the Capitals should remain a playoff caliber team:
OVECHKIN IS STILL SCORING A TON OF GOALS
The Great 8 is still scoring goals at a rapid pace. He has now recorded 8 50+ goal seasons, as he added another one this year. Ovechkin recorded 51 goals and 89 points during the regular season. He is now up to 658 career goals and 1,211 points in his 1,000+ game career.
The Capitals on-ice success runs through Ovechkin, and he had another outstanding playoffs in 2019. He is showing no signs of slowing down even at 33-years old. Ovechkin is playing some of the best hockey in his career, and Capitals fans have plenty of hope if he keeps his rapid scoring pace.
STRONG CENTER DEPTH
Nicklas Backstrom has quietly kept pace alongside Ovechkin with his point-producing ways. Backstrom had a strong 2018-19 campaign as he racked up 22 goals and 74 points. Evgeny Kuznetsov also had a strong 2018-19 campaign as he recorded 21 goals and 72 points.
The Capitals are tremendously deep and talented at the center ice position. With Backstrom, Kuznetsov, and Eller in the mix, this group of centres is among the league’s best in overall production.
EXCELLENT DEFENSIVE DEPTH
The Capitals blueline has been strong over the last few years. While John Carlson is the Capitals blueline anchor, the Capitals have constructed a strong blueline that has come together via strong drafting and trades.
The Capitals have a little bit of everything with their blueline. They have a strong offensive powerplay presence from John Carlson. They have steady reliable blueliners with Matt Niskanen and Michal Kempny that can chew up some minutes. In addition, they have some promising young up-and-comers with Jonas Siegenthaler and Christian Djoos in the mix.
The former Vezina Trophy winner and four-time NHL All-Star is a strong foundational piece for the Capitals. Holtby was excellent in the Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup run and has phenomenal postseason statistics.
The Capitals have been set in net for the last several seasons with Holtby, and Holtby could close in on more franchise records if he remains in the Capitals mix after next season.
Holtby’s calm presence and demeanor in net is why the Capitals have had a lot of success over the last number of years. He is an elite goaltender that has a tremendous skill set.
THE STANDARD OF A WINNING CULTURE
Between the Barry Trotz and Todd Reirden coaching tenures, the Capitals established a winning culture. The Stanley Cup window is open for this veteran Capitals team for the foreseeable future.
After winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, the winning culture in DC became solidified. There is a new standard that was not there in previous seasons. The expectation now has become to win the Stanley Cup moving forward.
This winning culture is important to have to maintain a successful franchise. Players, coaches, management, and ownership are more committed to winning and it is now become a standard in DC. A standard of excellence has been placed in DC over the last number of years, and it is something that everyone that is affiliated with the organization can be proud of.
By: George Foussekis