Will the Washington Capitals Go Deep in the Playoffs?

By NeelabhT
Mar. 20, 2017

      At the moment, the Washington Capitals are sitting atop on the NHL standings. They have the best record at 46-17-8 and the most points at 100. On Saturday, the Capitals clinched a playoff spot and have a chance to win a Stanley Cup. With a roster loaded with talented players like Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, T.J Oshie, Braedon Holtby, and many more, this accomplishment wasn't a surprise to most fans. However, the question among these fans are "will the Capitals go far in the Stanley Cup playoffs?" Last year, the Capitals had the best record and the most points and lost in the second round to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Under the Alex Ovechkin era, the Capitals haven't made it past the second round which is a major concern for this team. The Capitals are great in the regular season but when the marbles are on the line they choke. Hockey analysts expect the Capitals to beat their playoff demons and make some noise in the playoffs. Will the same happen this year as it did in previous years?                                             In my opinion, the Capitals will once again fall under expectations. It begins with the momentum of the season. In the first three quarters of the season, the Capitals were at the top of their game and looked very unstoppable. However, they have struggled mightily in the last quarter so far. The most important quarter of the season is the last one because it helps the gain positive momentum for the playoffs. So far, the Capitals have lost five of their past seven games. In their two wins, they scored four goals and five goals against sub-par teams. In the five losses, they managed to score two goals in each game. In comparison, the other team has scored two goals once, four goals three times, and five goals once. The Capitals are giving up a lot of goals while not scoring many. Out of the five teams, four teams currently sit in a playoff spot. These struggles show the Capitals are struggling score especially against good teams and are struggling to keep the puck out of the net.                                               Another reason while the Capitals will fail to meet expectations is injuries. The Capitals have been one of the most healthy teams while most teams have been very injured. While the Capitals are finding success with a healthy lineup, other teams are finding success without a healthy lineup. Eventually, the Capitals will find themselves in an injury situation, there is a very, very slim chance they remain this healthy. For example, the Pittsburgh Penguins have at least six regulars out of the lineup and have managed to be third in the league in points. This leads me to my next point.                                                                                                                                       The biggest reason the Capitals will fail to meet expectations is because of the beasts of the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last year, the Penguins knocked out the Capitals in the second round and ended up winning the Stanley Cup. With at least six regulars out of the lineup, the Penguins have managed the third best record in the league and currently are one point behind the Capitals. It is absolutely mind blowing how the Penguins have managed this much success with one-third of the lineup being injured. Barring any setbacks, the Penguins are expected to have a fully healthy lineup for the playoffs. Imagine this team healthy. With both teams healthy, the Penguins would absolutely take out the Capitals. The Penguins have a much better roster this year thanks to the emergence of young players like Jake Guentzal, Conor Sheary, and Bryan Rust. When one looks at the core of the Penguins, they be scared. Leading the way is Sidney Crosby, the best player in the NHL. The Robin to Crosby's Batman is superstar center Evgeni Malkin. Malkin has the potential to take over games by himself and dominate team like no other player can. The duo of Crosby and Malkin has been nicknamed the two headed monster. The next player is defenseman Kristopher Letang. Letang is currently injured and is expected to return soon. His game stands out on the blue line. He is a top three defenseman in the league with his amazing puck moving ability and his tenacity and toughness to shut down the other team's top players. The last player in the core is Marc-Andre Fleury/ Matt Murray. Murray and Fleury give the Penguins the best goalie tandem in the league. Fleury led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup win in 2009 while Murray led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup last year. Surrounding the core is strong talents like Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Carl Hagelin, Matt Cullen, Nick Bonino, and many more. Even if the Penguins are beat up, they match the Capitals very well. And if the Penguins are fully healthy, they will blow the Capitals off the ice.                                                                                                                       All in all, the Capitals are a very strong team but won't go deep in the playoffs due to injuries, momentum, and mostly the Pittsburgh Penguins standing in their way.