The NHL regular season is just around the corner. In anticipation, Eyes on Isles takes a look at every team in our division. What have they done to their roster, have they improved, and how will the New York Islanders fair against them?
Today we cover the Washington Capitals. The powerhouse team in the Metropolitan division and even the regular season winning last year’s Presidents Trophies with 120 points. Obviously a formidable foe for the New York Islanders.
This is part of an ongoing installment of a Metropolitan Division preview. We’ve already taken a look at the Columbus Blue Jackets, and continue down the list of teams in the Metro with the Washington Capitals.
The Core of a Champion
The Capitals had no big roster altering change to their setup. They still keep that amazing offense with Alex Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Then they add strength down the middle by giving up two second round picks to Montréal for center Lars Eller.
Eller gives the Capitals that great three-line threat that they hope carries them to the team’s first ever championship. That’s the goal for Washington, Stanley or bust. Anything less is a disappointment. They’ve figure out the regular season, but the Caps just can’t get it done in the playoffs.
The Caps lost Mr. age-is-only-a-number, Jason Chimera to free agency (who we picked up). Chimera had a great year for the Caps in 2015-16 getting 20 goals and 40 points over the course of the season.
Washington just wasn’t ready to give Chimera that extension knowing that his battle for meaningful productivity against father time could be lost at any time. So, they let him walk. And if we’re honest with ourselves we don’t expect Chimera to repeat that production this season.
And if we’re honest with ourselves we don’t expect Chimera to repeat that production this season. Chimera’s last four season read like a hot-then-not of scoring. From 2011-2012 Chimera’s production peaked and valleyed like the stock market.
The Washington Capitals are a championship caliber team, and in the offseason, they got rid of the risk and brought in good depth to help make that push.
Stanley Or Bust
If the Capitals we’re going to change their locker room modo like the Montréal Canadiens it would have to be: “Stanley or Bust”.
This team is built to win now. To be fair, they’ve been built to win now for a number of years. The Capitals have just failed the playoff test every year.
Do the Caps present a risk for us? Absolutely. Last season we lost three of our four encounters with them. The one we managed to win was an overtime victory at the tail end of last season.
This season we face Ovie and his crew five times. That’s ten points up for grabs. Every one of those games are going to be difficult and we’ll likely lose more than we win.
Staying competitive with the Capitals is the goal. Something we were able to achieve last season. Three of the four games were decided by a single goal, two going to overtime.
Barring long injuries to key players, the Capitals are going to be at the top of the division again this season. Limiting our chances to those three non-wildcard spots in the Metro and letting someone else the Cup-hungry Caps in the first round.