The Washington Capitals have been searching for the ever elusive Stanley Cup since the 1974-1975 season. Their only Stanley Cup appearance was in 1998 where they were swept by the dynasty Detroit Red Wings. Washington has had tremendous skill on most of their teams in the recent past. The highly offensive teams under Bruce Boudreau never made the cut, but the new look Barry Trotz Capitals have been the favorite to win the Stanley Cup all year.
The Washington Capitals, since the acquisition of Alex Ovechkin in 2004, have won six division titles in those 11 seasons. With this incredible accomplishment, the Capitals have never made it past the Conference Semifinals. To think the Capitals have never seen a Conference Final with all the great regular seasons they have had is truly amazing. How is a team that dominates the regular season unable to translate that success into a two-month long battle to hoist the Cup? That answer; I don’t have it, and neither does Ovi.
This year was different for Washington. They won their division in a dominate fashion, never really contested by any other team in the Metropolitan. They added key pieces in Oshie, Williams, and Richards. The latter two offered invaluable playoff experience with their time on the two-time Stanley Cup winning Los Angeles Kings–Williams is “Mr. Game 7!”. Holtby has posted likely Vezina-winning numbers on their journey into and through the 2016 NHL playoffs. The Barry Trotz era, offense first but also emphasis on defensive play, has allowed the new look Capitals another chance at the ultimate prize.
After last night’s loss to the Penguins, the Capitals face the deep 3-1 hole in a playoff series. In history, only 20 of 229 teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit, a mere 8.7%. The Washington Capitals have been on the losing side more often than not. Most recently, the Caps lost to the Montreal Canadiens in 2009 after being up 3-1 after four games. Ironically the New York Rangers have accomplished this feat twice in the last three seasons. Just two years ago they were able to come back from being down 3-1 over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then last year they were able to overcome the 3-1 deficit against who? You guessed it, the Washington Capitals. This remarkable feat made the Rangers the first team to come back from a 3-1 hole in consecutive play-off years. With the offensive fire power the Capitals possess and Holtby’s ability to shut a team down, the Capitals have a chance to climb back into the series.
The Penguins are now the force to be reckoned with in the East. With the winner of this series likely being able to take care of either the Islanders or Lightning in the Conference Finals, we are looking at a team that can make a serious run at the Stanley Cup in 2016.
The Washington Capitals know what has to be done in order to overcome this adversity. One game at a time, one win at a time. Let’s see if Ovi and Holtby can take control of the series. Only time will tell.
Game 5 will be on Saturday May 7, at 7:15 pm on NBC.