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Our nation’s capital is home to a great sports franchise, consistently contending for Lord Stanley’s Cup with fierce competitors willing to sacrifice for hockey immortality. !974 was the year that the Caps first entered the NHL as an expansion team and the immediate results were horrendous. An incredible record of 8-67-5 remains a league record for lowest winning percentage.
However, a lot has changed over the years, with many star players wearing the Capitals sweater. Among the best are Al Iafrate, Adam Oates, Sergei Gonchar, Kevin Hatcher, Scott Stevens, Olaf Kolzig, Mike Gartner, Dale Hunter, Peter Bondra, and Ron Langway.
Easily inserted into that list are a number of players in the current lineup for the Washington Capitals. Head Coach Barry Trotz must feel a wave of confidence every time he looks at his lineup card, which is loaded with talent in the likes of Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, John Carlson, Braden and Holtby. Team Captain Alex Ovechkin, considered to be one of the world’s best hockey players, keeps his team in every game with a mix of speed and finesse, paired with the ability to be physical and play with grit.
The history of the Washington Capitals shows a team that has only one conference championship to its credit with a Stanley Cup appearance in 1998 where they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. Despite not having much to show for it on paper, the Capitals are a tough opponent who never roll over easily.
The 2015-16 season saw the Capitals surge to a record of 56-18-8 for 120 points, best in the NHL. That success only carried them so far, however, as they were eliminated in the 2nd round of the playoffs by Ovechkin’s fiercest rival, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
A third season in Washington under Barry Trotz may bring about just the kind of consistency needed to take this team to the next level. Ovechkin and company look to remove the stigma that they can’t win the big games in the playoffs and bring a championship home to the nation’s capital. For further reading about the Washington Capitals click here.