With the start of the NHL regular season just a few days away it’s hard to control the excitement that surrounds such a great sport. The Capitals ended their preseason with a 5-2 win against Carolina on Sunday, and ended with a 5-3-0 record. Washington struggled on the road this preseason posting a 1-3-0 record, but went undefeated at home winning all 4 games at Verizon center. With new coach, Barry Trotz, leading the regime Washington looks to get back into the Playoffs for their 25th time and look to capture Lord Stanley for the first time in franchise history.
Washington has seen a lot of changes in the off-season. Most notably the addition of former Pittsburgh Penguin blue liners Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Barry Trotz also moved captain, Alex Ovechkin, back over to LW, but believes he will be able to adjust to both positions throughout the season. Alex will be paired with Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom on the first line. Ovechkin and Backstrom both ended the 2013 season with 79 points each, Fehr tallied 31 points.
The Capitals are also getting a little flare to their season.
The Capitals were elected to host the 2015 Brigestone Winter Classic, against the Blackhawks. The spectacle will take play January 1st at the Nationals stadium. This will be their second time playing in the Winter Classic. An on a side note, the jerseys are the best in the NHL.
What to watch for:
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Kuzy will have a strong shot at ROY if he continues his smart play. He ended the 2014 season with 9 points, 3 goals and 6 assists. His hockey IQ has secured him a spot on the roster for the 2015 season.
Tom Wilson and Dimitri Orlov: Both Wilson and Orlov are crucial to this team, both grinders who get the job done. Sadly, they both got injured during the off season and won’t start at the beginning of the season. Expected time of return for the youngsters is looking like mid November.
Will Ovechkin buy into the coaches system?: In my opinion this will be one of the most important things to watch for this season. If Ovechkin buys into Trotz’s system then I believe the Capitals will have a strong shot at being serious cup contenders. If not, we’ll see a lot of the same thing we saw last year. A lot of scoring from both the Capitals and the visiting team. It’s crucial that the Captain sets the tone for this team, and hopefully the tone will be strong defense leading to offense.
Power Play %: Former Capitals coach Adam Oates revolutionized the Power Play with Washington. Using Alex as the rifle man the Capitals led the NHL in PPG the two seasons Oates was coach. Last season the Capitals tied the Penguins for best Special teams in the league, converting 24.3% of their Power Play opportunities. Nashville, former team that Trotz coached, didn’t do so terribly either, they converted 19.3% of their power play opportunities. Of course Trotz didn’t have the offensive weapons in Nashville that he has now with the Capitals, but keep an eye out for changes in Special teams, hopefully it’ll be for the best.
The Washington Capitals kick off their season Thursday night against the Montreal Canadians at Verizon Center. Expect a Holtby vs Price match-up. And of course ROCK THE RED!!!!!