Trust in Barry Trotz.
The NHL coach most resembling an uncooked sweet potato (that’s a yam for you Americans) has a fairly outstanding track record in the NHL. Year after year he took Nashville Predators teams that were almost completely devoid of offensive talent and made them respectable. Now, he’s got the best goal-scorer in the last decade or so, a solid supporting cast, and all the expectations in the world to finally lead the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup.
In 2014-2015, the Capitals went into the season with some shiny, albeit expensive new toys on the blueline in Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Those names might seem REALLY, AMAZINGLY underwhelming, but they stepped up and made a difference. Everyone bought into Barry’s system, the supporting players lived up to expectations (except for you Brooks Laich, you can go shoot a local car dealership commercial) Ovechkin finally seemed happy and put up one of his best recent seasons as a result, and yet, the Capitals came up embarrassingly short against the New York Rangers. What a bunch of freaking chokers.
The time is now for these Caps. Ovechkin is soon going to be a grizzled old Russian man, which is an extremely scary thought. The core of players that everyone constantly calls underrated so much that they’ve now become overrated (Backstrom, Carlson, Alzner, Johanssen) aren’t spring chickens either. Obama’s reign as president is coming to an end and how you gonna let down Obama? Don’t you wanna bring the cup back to the Nation’s capital while noted sports enthusiast Obama is there to give you some daps? You think future president Donald Trump is gonna give a shit about the Stanley Cup?
So the Caps did some off-season tinkering to try and finally get over the hump. They suck in the playoffs? Bring in recent Conn Smyth winner Justin Williams! Need more forward depth? Who better to inject some goal-scoring into the Nation’s Capital than AMERICAN FUCKING HERO TJ OSHIE?
The Caps basically added two decent-to-good top 6 forwards for a bunch of pieces they didn’t want and added a meager 1 million to their cap in the process. Now that’s how you do it, GM of the Capitals who replaced George McPhee and hasn’t been around for long enough for me to remember his name.
If Braden Holtby can live up to his hefty new contract and put up numbers similar to his Vezina-worthy 2014-15, the Caps have a chance. If Ovechkin puts up 50, they have a chance. If the younger pieces like Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetzov live up to the hype, the Caps have a chance. There are SO many ‘ifs’ with this squad, and their outstanding ability to choke in the playoffs makes it hard to give them a full vote of confidence (no seriously, they’re like the Sharks of the East), but if all of the chips fall right, they’re certainly a strong contender to take the East.