After Another Elimination, Are the Capitals Still a Cup Contender?

The Washington Capitals had a good regular season again, winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the third time in franchise history (2009-10, 2015-16 and 2016-17). However, success in the regular season doesn’t always reflect success in the playoffs. Once more, the Caps were eliminated in Round Two (semifinals) of the Eastern Conference and by rival Pittsburgh Penguins; who like last year (and some other occasions) could be the eventual champions of the Stanley Cup. 

An era of uncertainty begins in Washington.

After winning the Presidents’ Trophy as the team with the most points during the regular season, the Capitals faced the second wild card team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, which didn’t make it easy for the Capitals. The series went to six games, which was won by the Washington team 4-2. After that, they’ve faced their greatest rival, the Penguins. The Caps didn’t make the most of the home ice advantage and  allowed Pittsburgh to open a 2-0 lead in the series. This led  to a player-only meeting in the locker room. In both games away from home, the Capitals won the first one and lost the other one, making the series 3-1 for the rival. The Capitals started a remarkable reaction, winning two games (home and away) to force a Game 7. However, even at home, the team was defeated 2-0 and was eliminated again and by their foes from Pennsylvania.

Next season (2017-18) will mark 20 years since the Capitals reached a conference final in 1998. which was the only one that the Capitals have won in franchise history–in six games over the Buffalo Sabres. After winning the Eastern Conference, the team was swept by the Detroit Red Wings,that won the series 4-0. That was the Caps only appearance in a Stanley Cup Final.

The question in the air after another elimination in the playoffs following a dominant regular season, is whether the Caps will continue to be a contender. It was said that this had been the best opportunity in the Ovechkin Era to win the Stanley Cup as the situation for this roster is uncertain for next season. With a tight salary cap and many players that cost a lot to the team, some some players will say farewell to the capital. This offseason will be  closely watched by the fans since a radical change in the roster will demonstrate whether or not this franchise will be able to continue to fight for the long-awaited Stanley Cup and bring it to the capital.

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