Washington Capitals: Playoff turmoil


Courtesy of Robin Witlin

TJ Oshie (foreground), Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov prepare for puck drop.

Luke Witlin, Writer

Rachel Carson students were disappointed in the Washington Capitals (NHL) playoff performance this year.

“It was a bit underwhelming this year,” said Adam Wolff, a seventh-grader on the Dream Team. “I wasn’t expecting us to lose in the first round this year.”

Before this year’s playoff disappointment, team captain Alexander Ovechkin said a famous quote last year: “We will not be suck this year.” It turned out to be true as the Washington Capitals went on to pull off a miraculous playoff run, and win the first Stanley Cup in the organization’s history.

“I honestly thought that the Caps overachieved that year in the playoffs,” said McKenna Witlin, a 12th-grader at Oakton high school. ”

After their Stanley Cup winning season, you would’ve thought that it was a no brainer to re-sign head coach Mr. Barry Trotz, but the Caps didn’t re-sign him and let him leave to the division rivals New York Islanders. The Caps made a move and signed long time Pittsburgh Penguins assistant Mr. Todd Reirden.

“Caps should’ve kept Barry Trotz,” said Dev Doshi, a seventh-grader on the Champions team at RCMS.

The Washington Capitals haven’t been known the greatest team in the first round; for example, this year the Caps lost in the first round after being up in two games to none in the series. Another example is that in 2016-17, the Washington Capitals won the presidents trophy, which means that they had the best record in the NHL that season. In the first round that year the Caps were taken to six games by the wild card #2 team, Toronto Maple Leafs.

“A lower seed team is playing more desperate,” said McKenna. “They have nothing to lose while the better team has everything to lose if they lose in the first round.”

In the past 10 years, the Caps have made it out of the first or second round a single time — the 2017-18 season. They have made the playoffs nine out of the last 10 but still can’t get past the first or second round.

“The main rival in the playoffs is definitely the Pittsburgh Penguins,” McKenna said. “I think this because Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin kind of grew up in the league together, the other rival is the New York Rangers, even though we don’t play them as often, but when we do … we always lose.”

Courtesy of Keith Allison
Evgeny Kuznetsov skates without a helmet on.

The regular season this year was full of ups and downs. A good thing that happened is that they went on a seven-game win streak in the middle of November that propelled them into the playoff hunt. They traded a couple of picks to get Carl Hagelin on the team. The Caps also traded backup goalie Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to the Colorado Avalanche for a second round draft pick. Coincidentally the Capitals traded back for Brooks Orpik before the trade deadline.

“The Carl Hagelin trade was okay, I guess,” Adam said. “The Grubauer trade was great because, even though we lost a good goalie, the backup, Pheonix Copley, played really well when he got the chance.”

The Capitals lost in the first round this year in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes. One of the star players on the team, TJ Oshie, broke his collarbone in game four of the series. Before the series even started, the Capitals called up Devante Smith-Pelly from the Hershey Bears. In last years playoff run, Devante scored seven goals and was a crucial part in the winning of the Stanley Cup.

“I’m not happy the way it ended,” McKenna said. “I’ll be out there cheering for them this October, LET’S GO CAPS!”