By: Jordan Cope, Assistant Sports Editor
At the All-Star Break, the unofficial midway point of the National Hockey League regular season, the Washington Capitals have the best record in the league at 38-5-4.
If the Capitals continue to win games at this pace, the team will be contenders for the Presidents’ Trophy, which is given to the team with the best regular season record.
This story is all too familiar for Washington fans, as the team won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2009-10 only to exit the playoffs in the first round. The Capitals also broke the hearts of its fans in 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2010-11 when the team was crowned Southeast Division Champions only to see a brief postseason.
So, why will this year be any different? Why will this be the year that the Capitals make noise in the playoffs and make a serious run at the Stanley Cup?
The answer to this question is simple, goaltender Braden Holtby. Holtby has been playing marvelous hockey for the Capitals all season and shows no signs of stopping. The 26-year-old netminder is 30-5-3 this season with an astounding 2.07 goals against average and a .929 save percentage.
Holtby is really coming into his own in this league, and now with three years of postseason play has the skills and experience to take the Capitals to the promise land.
However, it will be important for head coach Barry Trotz and goaltender coach Mitch Korn to monitor Holtby’s action so that he doesn’t fatigue as the season continues to progress.
Another key that will help the Capitals make a postseason run is the depth of the team.
With the offseason acquisition of centerman T.J. Oshie and the recent free agent signing of centerman Mike Richards, the Capitals have no holes in any of its line combinations.
Winger Justin Williams, another offseason acquisition by Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan, will also help Washington come spring. Williams has been playing in the NHL for 14 years and has hoisted two Stanley Cups when he was a member of the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.
And would it really be Capitals hockey without discussing the captain Alex Ovechkin?
Ovechkin has 28 goals, 14 assists and 42 points this season. The 30-year-old winger also became the first Russian-born NHL player to score 500 career goals.
If Washington is going to compete for a Stanley Cup this season then their captain, superstar and $124 million man will need to lead the team.
Over the past decade, the Capitals have broken their fans’ hearts time and time again with postseason disappointments. However, with all of the right pieces falling into place this could be the year that Washington hoists its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.