The Capitals were an interesting team to follow last season. They managed to bring it together at the end of the season and win the Southesast Division finishing with a 27-18-3 record. Most hockey fans were able to forget the trainwreck of a start that they had. Allow me to refresh their memory, the Caps started 2-8-1 in their first eleven games. All was forgotten though as Alexander Ovechkin rallied this team, scoring a league high 32 goals and winning the Hart Trophy as MVP. Most will have also forgotten that this was Adam Oates' first full season behind the bench in the NHL as a head coach. Oates brought a new system with him and had to get the Capitals players to buy in. Once they bought into his systems, there was no looking back. We expect the Capitals to be much better out of the gate this season.
There has not been too much news for the Capitals during the off season. Mike Ribeiro and Matt Hendricks are both gone due to free agency. Washington was able to replace Riberio with Mikhail Grabovski. The former Toronto Maple Leaf should fit in well with this system and we expect good things from him this season. Martin Erat will rejoin the club after coming over at the end of last season from Nashville. Brooks Laich will be back after missing the majority of last season.
Scoring has never been the issue for the Capitals and it should continue to be solid for the 2013-2014 campaign. Washington does have some question marks on the defensive side of the ice though. Leading the backend is none other than Mike Green who still is one of the biggest offensive threats at the defensive position. John Carlson and Karl Alzner are the top two defense man behind Green. The big question marks are the back three including John Erskine, Jack Hillen, and Steve Olesky. These three will be playing a large number of minutes and they really need to step it up.
Goaltending is fairly solid for the Capitals. Braden Holtby is the clear cut choice for the Caps. Holtby went 23-12-1 with 4 shutouts and a .920 SV%. He earned the starting job for sure over back up Michael Neuvirth who went 4-5-2 with a .910 SV%. Washington has two young goalies with high potential and they should both continue to improve this season.
The Capitals are still a good team and they will likely be underrated during the 2013-2014 campaign. Washington should have no problem making the playoffs but we do not think they will go far.