A Capitals Fan’s Guide to Who to Root For in the Playoffs

The Capitals are out of the Stanley Cup playoffs too early (again), but that doesn’t mean that Caps fans no longer have a reason to pay attention to the rest of the playoffs.  Some of the reasons are emotional (teams and fanbases that we just don’t want to see win and some that we do) and some are strategic (draft position), so let’s get to it.

Boston vs. Columbus

Let’s be realistic. No one outside of New England wants to see Boston win another title, especially with championships in the two most recent major league sports (Red Sox in the World Series and Patriots in the Super Bowl). Besides, they won a Cup in 2011 (too soon) and that would leave the Caps as the only Cup winner in the decade without multiple Cups.

While the Blue Jackets are a rival, they have a fanbase that has not had a lot to enjoy, so seeing a city and fanbase that has no other pro sports teams (though the Ohio State University football program arguably qualifies), I would not have an issue with their city getting to enjoy a title. Columbus sacrificed a lot of their future at the trade deadline so their future is not as bright. Besides, they have one of the best hockey bars around (the R-Bar near Nationwide Arena).

Strategically, if the Blue Jackets advance to the Eastern Conference Final, their first round draft pick (owned by Ottawa in the Duchesne trade) drops to one of the bottom four picks.  This moves the Caps’ pick draft up a spot in the first round.

Carolina vs. Islanders

I’m glad this round is over because it was a no-win situation. Allowing Trotz to leave was going to look and feel worse if the Islanders advanced. Seeing the “bunch of jerks” and their late to the party fanbase advance isn’t exactly a joy either, but at least with Carolina advancing to the Eastern Conference Final, their draft position in the first round has dropped to the bottom four in the first round, so that does benefit the Caps.

Dallas vs. St. Louis

If Dallas advances, one of the second round draft picks that Dallas traded to the New York Rangers for Mats Zuccarello becomes a first rounder and we don’t want to see that happen.  As a Caps fan, I never want to see anything that benefits the Rangers, especially since they will select second overall in the upcoming draft thanks to the draft lottery   and they are doing a pretty good job with their rebuild in a short period of time.

St. Louis is the only remaining (and existing) team from the 1967 expansion to not win the Cup. It probably wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for them to win one. Besides, they went to the Final the first three seasons in the post-1967 expansion NHL, were swept all three times, and haven’t been back since. It may be about time.

San Jose vs. Colorado

San Jose is the equivalent of the Caps in the Western Conference in terms of always doing well in the regular season and always falling short in the playoffs (at least until last season for the Caps). Their core is getting older, Joe Thornton is getting close to retirement, and their pain needs to end sometime. The San Francisco Bay Area has done pretty well with the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco Giants each winning multiple titles this decade, so that works against any sympathy for that area’s fanbase, but they will likely be getting worse before they get better and this may be their last good chance at a title.

Colorado is a feel good story after the horrific seasons that they have endured recently and there is a certain German goaltender that most people in the DMV still have a fondness for, but Colorado still has two Cups, including one during the Avalanche’s first season after relocating from Quebec, which edges this one towards the team with no Cups.  Besides, Colorado is young, talented, has the 4th overall pick in the upcoming draft (thanks to Ottawa), and should only be getting better.

Enjoy (or at least try) to enjoy some great hockey over the next month.

Decade of Excellence – Thankful Even After Defeat

The Capitals have been eliminated from the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs earlier than any Caps fan had hoped. Whether the craziness of this year’s playoffs with all division winners being eliminated in the first round makes it any easier is up for debate. For me personally, I’m disappointed that hockey in the District has come to an end for the season and I have to wait over five months for it to begin again. Continue reading “Decade of Excellence – Thankful Even After Defeat”

The Kuznetsov Concern Was Real

All through the playoffs fans and the media covering the Washington Capitals expressed concerns about Evgeny Kuznetsov’s performance. By the time the Caps exited the playoffs it was clear that they were right to be concerned.

Maybe if they made it to the second round the Caps would have seen a resurgence in his performance. In game seven he finally got a goal. Sure he had five assists in the series but that isn’t why the Capitals signed him to a rather hearty contract last summer.

In the exit interviews on Friday, he acknowledged that his play was inconsistent. He didn’t want to talk about next season- he had some spicy comments about that!

Even the man who makes the real decisions about the team, GM Brian MacLellen basically said that beyond the top line, the team lacked the desperation they had last season. The GM was clearly aggravated that some of the best players didn’t show up and play at their highest level in the playoffs. Specifically, when asked about Kuznetsov he said that he was frustrated by the performance of a potential top ten player and his lack of consistency. It is going to take a special touch to motivate a strong-willed player like Kuznetsov. It isn’t clear if Todd Reirden is the one to do that.

It will be interesting to see how he performs when he is back on Russia’s team in the IIHF Worlds and if we see the old Kuzy show up. For now, he isn’t going anywhere unless he wants to move. Given that he just bought a couple pieces of property in McLean, Virginia it is doubtful he wants to be anywhere else but on the Capitals roster.

Hurricanes and Islanders First Night Battle

The NY Islanders did that great thing and swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in round one. The Carolina Hurricanes took seven games to defeat the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. The two meet in New York Friday night for the first game of round two. The puck drops at 7 pm on NBCSN. Continue reading “Hurricanes and Islanders First Night Battle”

Capitals, Hurricanes, and Islanders: Linked in Playoffs

It is always hard when your team exits the Playoffs before you are ready. This year it is a strange sensation to have the Caps out in the first round. Gone are the cries of: “It always happens.” No more can we blame the “DC Sports Curse.” We have tasted what championship winning feels like. We wanted to go back-to-back, partly because it sounded cool to do and partly because we wanted to shake up the NHL and their constant bragging about the Pittsburgh Penguins. Continue reading “Capitals, Hurricanes, and Islanders: Linked in Playoffs”

Round One 2019 Playoffs; Without the Capitals

What a crazy and fun ride the first round of the 2019 NHL playoffs was to watch. Capitals fans were in nail-biting mode for a good bit of the series. That also seems to hold true for most of the rest of the league as a couple of teams were swept and a few more went down to the wire with seven games to sort out the winner. Continue reading “Round One 2019 Playoffs; Without the Capitals”

Game Seven Too Much for the Caps

What a night in Washington DC. It was a long fight to see who would advance to round two of the playoffs. The Carolina Hurricanes led by former Caps and LA Kings Justin Williams or the Washington Capitals led by defending champ Alex Ovechkin. After 60 minutes of regular play, a tied game pushed the teams into not one, but two overtime periods. The dream for the Capitals to repeat their success ended in a seventh game 4-3 loss. Continue reading “Game Seven Too Much for the Caps”

Do We Really Need to Worry About Kuznetsov?

We have been watching Twitter and the comments about Evgeny Kuznetsov’s less than impressive showing in the playoffs so far. Should we be worried with what some are calling a lackluster play? Continue reading “Do We Really Need to Worry About Kuznetsov?”

Capitals Head Home for a Game Seven

We’ll keep this short: The Capitals went to Raleigh hoping to finish the series and advance to round two. That did not happen as the Hurricanes outplayed them at home again securing a 5-2 win over the Caps. Braden Holtby did what he could but without the help of his teammates he was left stranded to defend the title. Continue reading “Capitals Head Home for a Game Seven”

Caps Get Blown Out in Raleigh 5-0, What Now?

Monday’s game was hot garbage, plain and simple. The Caps were dominated in every aspect of the game and Carolina fed off of a capacity crowd that has waited 10 years for the Hurricanes to be back in the playoffs. So the question the Caps have to answer is: what now? Continue reading “Caps Get Blown Out in Raleigh 5-0, What Now?”