Washington Capitals season preview: Caps have all the right tools for the push
Plus: The Washington Capitals possess the top goal-scorer in the last decade in Alexander Ovechkin, and he is accompanied by new shiny forwards in T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams. With their additions, the Capitals have one of the strongest, if not the strongest, top-six forwards in the entire NHL. With an overabundance of scorers, the Capitals can fill three legitimate scoring lines for the first time in the last several seasons. Andre Burakovsky will see a full-time NHL role, and the versatile forward can find himself anywhere in the lineup. With players like Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera, accompanied with players like Tom Wilson and Michael Latta, the team can either outskate you or overpower you. Pick your poison.
Minus: An overall weak penalty-killing team lost several of its penalty killers. Troy Brouwer, Eric Fehr and Joel Ward were three of the team’s top-six forwards in penalty kill ice time, and all are suiting up for another team. Last year, the Capitals finished with the 14th-ranked penalty kill. And with three key players departing, who immediately steps in? Jay Beagle may see much more time, and Latta and Oshie may see a significant amount of time as well.
X-Factor: Justin Williams
In Williams’ career, he has gone 7-0 in Game 7s, and has seven goals and seven assists in the elimination games. The Washington Capitals have gone 3-6 in Game 7s since Ovechkin joined the team. Williams hates his “Mr. Game 7” nickname, but he’s rightfully earned it. And no team needs that magic more than Washington. The 34-year-old wing will play a significant role in the Capitals’ success.
Prediction: With a scary offense, a strong defense and a Vezina-caliber goalie in Braden Holtby, the Capitals will storm through the regular season as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Ovechkin has never made it past the Conference Semifinal, but this team is simply too strong to falter that quickly. They will break the mold, finally getting over that hump and will battle hard toward their first Stanley Cup.