The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs are fast approaching and the Washington Capitals have had an incredible regular season so far. The emergence of guys such as Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby, as well as the offseason addition of T.J. Oshie last July, has had a large impact on their success. Along with all of these positives came another strong campaign from Alex Ovechkin. Up to this point, through 73 games, Ovi has collected 43 goals and 21 assists for 64 points and his best +/- rating since the 2010-2011 season (+17). As he nears his seventh 50-goal season, the quest for the cup is back on and at the age of 30, he has yet to hoist Lord Stanley. Looking at a record like 54-16-5, you’ve got to think there is a very strong chance that this is the year to do it. On the same day that T.J. Oshie was acquired from the St. Louis Blues last July, the Caps inked established playoff performer, three-time Stanley Cup Champion, and Conn Smythe trophy winner, veteran winger Justin Williams to a two-year contract worth $6.5 million. Having struggled to get to the Cup Finals in the past, Williams’ extensive playoff experience and prowess could be a crucial boost to their playoff success for however long they choose to keep him. Oshie and Williams have handled their top 6 winger roles very well in their time as Capitals, both achieving 20-goal seasons and putting up solid numbers across the board.
Oh, and who can forget about the explosion of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby. Kuzy is leading the team in points with an impressive 20-53-73 stat line in 75 games and is only going to grow as a phenom in the league. Holtby, on the other hand, has shown outstanding dominance in between the pipes. Currently at 46-9-4 with a 2.19 GAA and a .923 SV%, partly because of the absence of Carey Price for much of the season, Holtby has asserted himself as the league’s top goalie. The absence of Carey Price does not diminish Holtby’s accomplishments by any means, and having them both healthy and competing at some point in the future will be very fun to watch.
Now back to Alex Ovechkin. This should be the year and here is why. This 2016 Washington Capitals team is the best, most well-rounded Capitals squad that we have seen in quite some time, which only strengthens their pursuit for greatness. For those of you who don’t know, Alex Ovechkin became the first Russian-born player to reach the 500-goal plateau this past January, against the Ottawa Senators. How great would it be to see such a historic, Presidents Trophy winning season, one of the league’s all-time best goal scorers reaching 500 goals and winning his first Stanley Cup? It’s a storybook ending, and I for one, along with others, are rooting for Ovi and the Caps to take it home this season.
(Stats as of 3/29/16)
*Image Source: cdn-jpg.si.com