Washington Capitals Playoff Preview; First Round vs. Philadelphia Flyers
The Capitals had a storybook season, finishing with the NHL’s best record at 56-18-8. With that record, they also set a new franchise record for points in a single season with 120 points, 24 more than the Philadelphia Flyers.
Washington is home to a very powerful offense that seems nearly impossible to stop. They saw their ‘goals for’ numbers improve compared to last season. Alex Ovechkin led the way for the Caps in goals scored, netting 50 throughout the season. It’s the seventh time in his career that he has done so, including his third in a row.
This season, the Caps scored a total of 248 goals, keeping in mind the league average was 222. With that being said, Ovechkin wasn’t the only one contributing with goals. The Capitals saw five other teammates score 20+ goals this season: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie and Jason Chimera. There’s no doubt that the Capitals are going to need this kind of consistent offense in the playoffs. Without it, they could easily give any team a chance to walk all over them.
On the other hand, Washington also showed strength on the defensive end. Most of that success came at the hands of their goaltender, Braden Holtby. Holtby won a total of 48 games, which is the most wins in a single season in NHL history. As a team, they allowed more than 100 fewer shots than the average of the rest of the league. Not only were they not letting teams shoot, they weren’t even letting them score when they got the chance. With a team save percentage of .921, the Caps hope to be that unstoppable throughout the playoffs.
Evgeny Kuznetsov a Major Piece
Evgeny Kuznetsoz is easily the glue that keeps this team together. Playing the center position, he’s relied on a lot to make smart decisions. While Ovechkin carried the load in scoring, Kuznetsov pretty much carried the load in everything else. He was the team’s leader in points (77), assists (57), as well as his +/- rating (27).
Without Kuznetsov, the Capitals wouldn’t have had the success they had this season. If he can continue his dominance, along with Holtby and Ovechkin, this team can see an easy road to the Stanley Cup series.
(Washington Capitals Playoff Preview)