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What to Expect from the Caps This Season
Todd Reirden will have a similar system as Barry Trotz but will likely utilize the younger players more often. (Caps Outsider)
A new season has arrived for the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. The weight of an entire city now off of their shoulders, the Capitals can play loose and with confidence. What should we expect from a team that is almost exactly the same as the one that won the most coveted trophy just a few months ago?
First-year head coach Todd Reirden will most likely have a different philosophy than what we have seen with Barry Trotz. Expect the Caps to infuse more speed into the lineup on a nightly basis, and a longer leash for young, skilled players like Andre Burakovsky, Jakub Vrana, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey.
As we saw last spring, the combination of these young players, along with veterans, is essential to success. The core group of veterans, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie and Braden Holtby are one year older. Despite this, there is no reason to expect major regression. I fully expect Holtby to have a bounce-back season, considering he was less-than stellar during the regular season last year.
Luckily for the Caps, their prime opposition in the Metropolitan Division is one year older, too. While the Caps might not win the division this season, I full expect them to finish in a spot that grantees them home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. In the postseason, anything less than a first round win would be a major disappointment. While Ovechkin said the motto for this season is “not suck, back-to-back,” this is not a “Cup or Bust” season. If the Caps make it to seven games in the second round, or lose in the Conference Finals, they’re already achieving more than we expected with last season’s roster.
This season will be an interesting one for the Caps. They will have each and every team’s best effort every night as they have a target on their back – all reigning Stanley Cup Champions go through the same thing. With that being said, it’s a new year, and it’s time to write the next chapter in Washington hockey history. Enjoy the banner raising, but the second the puck hits the ice, forget everything from last season and focus on the year ahead.