The Washington Capitals have looked like the strongest team in the NHL for well over half of the season and it isn’t even close. Leading the president’s cup race by 12 points so late into the season is no easy feat. Their goal differential is also over twice that of their nearest competitor (59 to LA’s 26). So how will they turn out in the playoffs?
Why they will win
Washinton’s offence is the most potent in the league. With goals leader Alex Ovechkin, and three top 15 league point leaders, there is scoring coming from everywhere. The top 2 lines for the Capitals (Ovechkin, Backstrom, Oshie and Burakovsky, Kuznetzov, Williams) would be first lines anywhere they play. There is also depth scoring, with 6 players on pace for 20 goals this year.
Braden Holtby is also their goaltender. An arguable top 5 goalie is always great in the playoffs, ,and can carry the team to victory.
Why won’t they win
The Capitals do not have a shutdown defenseman. With a top 4 of Niskanin, Carlson, Alzner and Orpik, all are good quality defencemen, but none can shadow the likes of Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos. Playoff hockey is a different breed of hockey, and teams usually have to rely on their depth, as star forward will cancel out a star defenceman. But the Capitals cannot cancel out another teams best scorer very easily, or at all.
Braden Holtby is also their goaltender. He can get streaky, and if a bad streak starts during any point in the playoffs, he can single-handedly sink the Capitals dreams of Lord Stanley.
the Capitals are the best team in the NHL right now. Everyone is playing well, and they will only get better once Carlson returns from injury. As long as they keep playing the way they are, there should be no problem for them cruising to the Stanley Cup. They will most likely make the conference championship,. and are among the front-runners for the Stanley Cup.
by Graham Besse