This NHL season feels different because 1) the Caps are in the Metropolitan division with Pittsburgh, New York Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Carolina and 2) not a lot of hype surrounding this team. Sure, the Caps did sign Mikhail Grabovski somehow to fill the 2C, but for the past six years, you should expect offense from this team.
The question for these past six years and this year is when does the defense catch up to the offense? This is very early to tell but with the players they have, expect an offensive shootout nearly every game. Already in the first week of action, you see the defense is struggling to stop anyone and what us now worrisome is the goaltending situation with Brendan Holtby struggling and Michel Neuvirth’s mind. It’s too early to tell, but that’s why they play 82 games.
Experts are saying the Caps are easily a top 4 team in their division and should make the playoffs. I don’t think it is a given. The Southeast division was easy for the Caps because there were no physical teams in that division. The Metropolitan division is a whole another level when you face teams that are actually close to D.C. What I think the experts say the Caps are a playoff team is throughout the regular season (or as I like to call it, the longest preseason in all of North American sports leagues), they have to face tough teams every other day and should be bloodied, which is a good thing.
In any other year, the Flyers and Devils would push the Caps to make it in the playoffs, but they’re in transition mode. I think the Penguins, Rangers, and Islanders would get in. The Caps might have to battle the Hurricanes for the 4th spot in the division. The 4th spot is important because of the setup, if the Caps are 5th in their division, they need to hope the have more points than the 4th place Atlantic team. I think the Caps will make it this year, but as a lower seed. Do I think they’ll win the Stanley Cup? Ask me in April.