Capitals season preview: champs look to defend cup


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Captain Alexander Ovechkin skates with the puck in a regular season game. Ovechkin looks to lead the team to another Stanley Cup this season.

It was after years and years of playoff disappointments that the Washington Capitals were finally able to win their first Stanley Cup. The city was on edge and everybody in town seemed to be a Caps fan. The “ALL CAPS” signs could be seen on street corners throughout the DMV area. Now, after a summer of celebration, it is time for a new era to begin.

The narrative that once described a cupless team is no longer relevant and has been replaced with questions of defending the title. Last year before the season began, captain Alexander Ovechkin made his famous statement.

“We’re not gonna suck this year,” Ovechkin said.

The statement has become something for DC to rally around as Ovechkin reasserted his claim this season.

“Not suck back-to-back,” Ovechkin said, describing the team’s goals for the season.

Sure enough, last year, “not sucking” meant a Stanley Cup championship, which is what D.C. fans will look for again this year as they shower the team with “back-to-back” chants.

Despite the newfound spirit, this year will be similar in some ways to years before. The Caps will have to get past their division rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as other talented squads across the NHL if they want to repeat as champs. The Caps are at a disadvantage this year, now that former head coach Barry Trotz, who led the team to their first ever Stanley cup signed with the New York Islanders after his contract expired over the summer. The Caps will now be lead by former assistant coach Todd Reirden. The Caps will most likely bring the best play out of every opponent simply because they are the defending champs.

This season the Caps return with nearly the same team that hoisted the cup last year. They have experience, grit and determination which helped carry them in the playoffs last season.

“When you taste it, you want it more and more,” Ovechkin said when describing the feeling of winning a Stanley Cup.

The team may be hungry for another cup, but many people are asking if they can make it a reality this season.

“Coming off a strong Stanley Cup championship, I expect them to make a strong playoff push. After a first big win they look strong,” junior Eli Priesman stated.

Because the Caps will have a roster almost identical to last year’s, on paper they could essentially win another cup. But as many Caps fans know, winning the Stanley Cup is not easy. If the Caps are to make a strong push for the playoffs and become contenders again, they must achieve a few things during the season, one of which is consistency. Putting in strong performances each and every night will be crucial in determining the team’s success.

The power play was key to the Caps’ success last year and it will be instrumental to their success again this year. In last year’s playoffs, players such as Devante Smith-Pelly and Lars Eller stepped up and were key to the team’s success. This year, the Caps need more players to step up and influence the game. Fans have already seen promising rookies step up this year such as Nic Dowd, who scored impressively in a 7-0 routing of the Boston Bruins on banner night.

This season poses new challenges, and the most difficult one is how hard it is to repeat. If the Caps can earn key victories against Metro Division rivals as well as play smart and efficient hockey throughout the season, they should be in a good spot for the playoffs and potentially to win the Stanley Cup once again.