Unlike their rivals in the Steel City, the Capitals’ leader, Alex Ovechkin, hasn’t slowed down. His ninth 50-goal season tied him with Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most such campaigns in league history. His complement of Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, John Carlson and more have all looked good this season. Washington may upset Stanley Cup favorites Florida in the first round but won’t go much further than that for two easy reasons.
No. 1, the team has rarely been at full strength the entire season. That constant need to shift lines around will leave the Capitals a little short in terms of chemistry. Maybe more importantly, Washington hasn’t settled on a starting goaltender all year between Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. It wasn’t procrastination that made no such declaration. Neither goaltender proved worthy of holding that spot consistently. No repeat from 2018 is happening four years later.
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