Bandwagon Adoption Guide For Caps Fans Following The 2023 NHL Playoffs

Photo: US Adult Literacy

What’s a Capitals fan to do with their team missing the playoffs this season? Some fans will skip watching the hockey playoffs and focus on watching another sport, or even concentrate more on non-sports activities.

But for those fans who love hockey and want a playoff rooting interest they could consider a temporary “bandwagon” role for one of the playoff qualifiers. Here are a few options to consider.

1. Root for Team with One or More Former Capitals Players

Capitals fans could root for former Capitals players that were traded or signed as a free agent. Below is a list of playoff qualifying teams with former Capitals players or other former Capitals personnel.


  • New Jersey Devils – current team of Vitek Vanecek, former Capitals goalie, and Jonas Siegenthaler, former Capitals defenseman
  • New York Islanders – current team of Semyon Varlamov, former Capitals goalie. Lane Lambert, their head coach, used to be an assistant coach for the Capitals. In addition, one of the Islanders players, Brock Nelson, is the nephew of long-time former Capitals player and Miracle on Ice Gold Medal winner, Dave Christian.
  • New York Rangers – current team of Jaroslav Halak, who played with the Caps after the trade deadline of 2013.


  • Boston Bruins – current team of Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway, who were traded at this season’s trade deadline. They are thriving in their new digs and have the virtue of being on the best team. If the Bruins win the Cup, perhaps Dmitry Orlov could get some extra time with the Stanley Cup as he lost out on several hours due to the Cup being sent to the wrong city.
  • Florida Panthers – current team of Radko Gudas, former Capitals defenseman who is also the brother-in-law of former Capitals goaltender, Michal Neuvirth.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning – no former Capitals currently play with Tampa Bay but former Capital, Jeff Halpern, is an assistant coach with them.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs – current team of Ilya Samsonov, former Capitals goalie.


  • Colorado Avalanche – Current team of center Lars Eller who was traded at the 2023 trade deadline. He played with the Capitals for several years and scored the game winning goal in the last game of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018. Their head coach, Jared Bednar, started his professional coaching experience with the South Carolina Stingrays, the Capitals’ ECHL team.
  • Minnesota Wild – Current team of Marcus Johansson who played several years with the team before getting traded and returned to the team last season only to get traded again. Dean Evason, their Head Coach, used to be an assistant coach for the Capitals.
  • Winnipeg Jets – Current team of Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt, two former Capitals defensemen and Axel Jonsson-Fjalby, former Capitals forward.


  • Las Vegas Knights – Current team of Chandler Stevenson, who was part of the 2018 Stanley Cup winning Capitals team. Former Capitals General Manager, George McPhee is now Team President with them. Former Capitals Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy, is currently Head Coach of the Golden Knights.
  • Los Angeles Kings – Current team of Pheonix Copley, who was Capitals’ backup goaltender in 2018-19 and played goal for the Hershey Bears for many years.
  • Seattle Kraken – Current team of Andre Burakovsky and Philipp Grubauer, who were part of the 2018 Stanley Cup winning Capitals team. They also have two other former Capitals, defenseman Justin Schultz and forward Daniel Sprong.

Photo: Elaine Thompson/AP

2. Root For Underdog

Another option is rooting for an underdog team. Underdog teams include the wildcard teams, teams who have made the playoffs after being downtrodden for many years, and teams who have either never won the Stanley Cup or have a championship drought lasting at least a generation.

  • Seattle Kraken – Last season, the Kraken, as a first-year expansion team, finished in last place in the Pacific Division. This year, they have qualified for the playoffs in only their second year of existence and have made the greatest improvement in points for a second-year expansion team (28 points).
  • New Jersey Devils – The Devils finished second in the Metropolitan Division and qualified for the playoffs. This is a dramatic improvement for a team who finished seventh in the Metropolitan Division in 2021-22 and have qualified for the playoffs just once since the 2011-12 season, when they reached the Stanley Cup Finals. The Devils last won the Stanley Cup in 2003.
  • Winnipeg Jets – The Jets are a wild card team who missed the playoffs their last two seasons. In over 20 years of existence, they have never advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, much less win the Stanley Cup.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs – While they are a strong team at the present time, they have not advanced past the first round since 2002-03 and have not won a Stanley Cup since 1966-67.
  • Edmonton Oilers – They have not advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals since 2005-06 and have not won the Stanley Cup since 1989-90.
  • Florida Panthers – They have existed since the 1993-94 season and have never won the Stanley Cup. Their last appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals was 1995-96
  • Dallas Stars – They last won the Stanley Cup in 1998-99.
  • Las Vegas Knights – They have not won the Stanley Cup and have existed since 2017-18.
  • New York Islanders – They have not won the Stanley Cup since 1982-83.
  • New York Rangers – They have not won the Stanley Cup since 1994-95. Their last Stanley Cup prior to that was in 1939-40.

Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images

3. Root For Team Who Reminds You of a Past Capitals Team

Another option is to root for a team that reminds fans of a past (or present) iteration of a Capitals team.

  • Toronto Maple Leafs – in many ways, the current team is very similar to the Washington Capitals from the “Young Guns” era of 2007-08 through 2011-12. The Maple Leafs’ top forwards, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander evoke memories of Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom. Plus, they have an offensive defenseman, Morgan Rielly, who evokes memories of Mike Green.
  • Carolina Hurricanes – the current edition of the Carolina Hurricanes is like the Washington Capitals teams just prior to their Stanley Cup winning team of 2017-18. Since the pandemic, the Hurricanes have regularly finished first in their division but would get eliminated in the second round. Ironically enough, prior to the pandemic, the Canes used to overachieve in the playoffs before then, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals as a serious underdog.

Enjoy the postseason, everyone…if you are indulging.

By Diane Doyle

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
This entry was posted in News, Players, Playoffs, Teams, Washington Capitals and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Bandwagon Adoption Guide For Caps Fans Following The 2023 NHL Playoffs

  1. KimRB says:

    Rooting for Dallas, my second team. Lotsa room next to me, on this bandwagon. And they’re built similar to the 2018 Caps.

  2. Jon Sorensen says:

    I’m joining the Krak heads wagon. New team, love the former Caps and the city is a favorite.

  3. dwgie26 says:

    I’ll be watching. Not sure I have picked a bandwagon yet. Probably do that after the first found. But i have interest in seeing Boston win as I don’t hate them and I do love Orlov and Hath. Just hate Marchant so much. Out West, I have a soft spot for Seattle. But first round I’ll just be enjoying the best playoffs in all of sports.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m going with the Devils, Vitek and Jonas. The kids got a crappy deal in DC

  5. GRin430 says:

    I’ll be rooting for the Hershey Bears. The NHL season is basically over as far as I’m concerned. I might see a few minutes of some SC playoff games while channel surfing, but have no intention of rooting for any other NHL team.

  6. novafyre says:

    With Amalie a 20 minute drive away I’ll be rooting for the Bolts again. Lost a lot of great players but still hoping.

  7. horn73 says:

    Hersey Bears for me, but also like Kim, I’ll ride with Dallas since I live close by.

  8. Prevent Defense says:

    Option 5:
    Dig in and watch ALL the NHL 2023 playoff games with massive enjoyment – simply because Cindy Crosby and his band of thieves are sitting home, crying in their Iron City LIght beers

  9. drawbar4935 says:

    Where next for Pete Lavender?

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