As the preseason comes to an end, the roster that the Washington Capitals will take to the ice in the 2017-18 regular season of the NHL is pretty much set. After losing important pieces, the question that remains in the air is: what will happen for the Capitals in a Metropolitan Division that’s expecting to be a difficult one this season.
In the 2015-16 season, the Capitals had won their second Presidents’ Trophy but were eliminated bythier arch-rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In 2016-17, another Presidents’ Trophy, the third of their history, but another elimination by the same Penguins, now after managing to force a game seven. The Caps were also eliminated by the same Penguins in Game 7 in the semifinals of the conference in 2009-10, when they had won their first Presidents’ Trophy. Also remember that on all three occasions, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.
This season will mark twenty years since the Capitals last managed to reach a conference final. At the time, 1998, the Caps won the conference when they defeated the Buffalo Sabres in six games. The team reached its first final of the Stanley Cup, but was swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 4-0 in the series. After that, the Caps bittered alternations between seasons without qualifying, with eliminations in the first or second round.
The Capitals will have to adapt to a new reality. Before, they were considered as one of the Stanley Cup contenders, but now it’s gonna take hard work to keep this status. The loss of many important players during the off season and a Metropolitan Division that will probably be the most difficult of the NHL this season is going to make for a tough season for Washington.
The Capitals didn’t have a good preseason, winning only two of seven games. Another thing that marked this preseason was the number of goals conceded. However, the fact that the preseason is primarily to evaluate the players who will fill the roles of those who left during the off season, is a good reason to try to calm down the Caps fans. In fact, some teams from last season who did well in the preseason did not qualify for the playoffs.
The Capitals regular season will challenge the ability of the team to supply the needs left by the departure of players like Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams and Karl Alzner. Youngsters like Jakub Vrana should make room this season. Vrana began to gain space last season, with good presence in the few times he was called. One player who stood out in this preseason was Tyler Graovac, newly acquired by Caps. Players like Madison Bowey also, but who will possibly continue to play for the affiliate Hershey Bears.
The regular season for the Capitals begins Thursday at 7:30 p.m. EST. against the Ottawa Senators. The Caps head to the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to make their debut against the Eastern Conference finalist.