*UPDATED* Back In Business: Washington Capitals Playoff Preview

  2019-20 Regular Season Record % Games Won of Total GP
Washington Capitals 41-20-8 (69 GP) .652

The Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals are set to chase down a second championship in three years as the Stanley Cup Playoffs gear up to begin in a few weeks’ time upon the conclusion of the best-of-5 play-in series. For a fifth straight year, and 11th  time in 12 seasons, Washington earned a position in the post-season after finishing the 2019-20 season 5th in the NHL with a 41-20-8 record and 90 points (TheScore).


The Capitals dropped their final game before the season was suspended, in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, a team that hasn’t seen the post-season in nine seasons. Washington ended the year 4-3-3 in their last 10 matches. However, the Capitals are posted at +650 odds to win the Cup this year, making them the 4th favorite in Vegas sportsbooks.

Statistically speaking, the Caps were the best team of the 2010’s in a variety of metrics. In the last 10 years, Washington tallied the most points (1,020), boasted the best power play (22.1%), and won the most games (465-231-0-90). The Washington Capitals trailed only the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins as the winningest team of all time.


Ahead of the start of formal training camp, more than half of the Caps’ starting roster participated in informal Phase 2 practices at Medstar Capitals Iceplex. Per the NHL and NHLPA, in accordance with guidelines set forth by public health and infectious disease experts and organizations, players and coaching staff could host unofficial practices at their home facilities. The following players have committed to participating in the resumption of the 2019-20 season throughout the playoffs.

Caps’ captain Alex Ovechkin, despite the abrupt halt to the season, had another career year. He won his 9th Rocket Richard Trophy, although having to share the title with Boston’s David Pastrnak, as both players scored a total of 48 goals in the 2019-20 season. Alex tallied 48 goals and 19 assists for 67 points in 68 games. 13 of his 48 goals came on the Capitals’ power play, and Ovechkin even managed to score back-to-back hat-tricks versus the Devils (01/16) and the Islanders (01/18). The Russian winger would go on to score a third hat-trick in less than a month, and fourth of the season, versus the LA Kings on February 4th. It seemed as though during every game, Ovechkin was passing legendary name after name on the all-time goal scoring list. He was ultimately able to reach the 700-goal mark on February 22nd versus the New Jersey Devils. Ovechkin tallied a goal and an assist in his final showing versus the Sabres but was ultimately robbed of a 9th 50-goal season due to the coronavirus pandemic (Ovechkin).

Capitals fans across the globe are thrilled at the chance to see Thrashers’ legend Ilya Kovalchuk finally play alongside Alex Ovechkin, in an NHL playoff environment.

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In 32 career NHL playoff appearances (Atlanta [2006-07], New Jersey [2009-10][2011-12]), Kovalchuk tallied 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points. Six of his goals came on the power play (Kovalchuk).

Defenseman John Carlson dominated the Norris Trophy race this season, with 15 goals and 60 assists for 75 points in 69 games played. Carlson led league defensemen in points and assists, and ended up fourth overall on the assist leader board. Despite tallying 26 power play points and ending the year with a +12, the veteran defenseman began to falter off at the end of the season, as did most of the Capitals defense (sans Nick Jensen, who happened to be the strongest blueliner; who would have thought). The Norris Trophy winner will be formally announced July 20th; will John finally earn the recognition he deserves?


The Washington Capitals will first take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday August 3rd, in the first of three round-robin matches. The Caps defeated the Bolts by a score of 3-1 back on December 21st, 2019. They will then face-off against the Philadelphia Flyers on August 6th, and finally the Boston Bruins on Sunday August 9th, 2020. The Caps/Bruins match-up was previously scheduled for Saturday.

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References:

Hockey-reference. (2020). Alex Ovechkin Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/o/ovechal01.html.

Hockey-reference. (2020). Ilya Kovalchuk Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/k/kovalil01.html.

NHL.com. (2020). Caps Finish with Most Wins in 2010s, Record Third-Most Wins in Any Decade. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/capitals/news/caps-finish-with-most-wins-in-2010s-record-third-most-wins-in-any-decade/c-313234160.

NHL.com (2020). John Carlson Stats and News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/john-carlson-8474590.

TheScore. (2020). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.

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