During the Capitals’ run to the 2018 Stanley Cup, the team faced many obstacles. One of those key obstacles was injuries to key players. In previous seasons those injuries would have daunted this team and the quote on quote “nail would be in the coffin.” Then came the 2018 Cup run where we lost Nicklas Backstrom for four games spanning across two series and unlike previous years, it didn’t phase the boys.
The other key obstacle was Tom Wilson’s three game suspension in the Pittsburgh series. Although as we did with the Nick Backstrom injury, we played harder and stronger than ever before. We used that, “let’s do it for Tommy!” mantra which as we would find out later in the calendar year that it would help us just one more time.
When Tom Wilson was given his 20-game suspension, most hockey people concurred that that blow along with the aforementioned Stanley Cup hangover would be the demise of these Capitals. During the first month and a half of the year this was in fact the case. We went from five great games to five abysmal games in the blink of an eye but as is common with this team as of late, it didn’t phase them.
Once Tom came back into the lineup, a fire was ignited. The consistent PK and strong board play was back and things were looking eerily similar to the 2018 Finals. Then they get handed the exit of two key top six forwards; T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov to concussion-like symptoms.
Although just like during the Cup run, nothing could stop them. Role players are stepping up and the stars are being stars. If you told me this would happen during the 2016-17 campaign I wouldn’t believe you. This aforementioned next man up mentality is surely contagious so here’s to it lasting for seasons to come.