I wasn’t sure what to expect early in the season if this Caps team were any good. In the first quarter of the season, you have no idea the direction the team was. One day, they were playoff-bound and other times, they were in the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel sweepstakes. Then in December, they got on a hot streak by getting points in 11 of 13 games that month and they continue their hot streak in January until mid-January, when they had their 4-game losing streak.
You could see all season this is not the explosive Caps fans loved from 2008-2011. This is an all-around team that can score goals; have great play from the blue line, especially from Brooks Orpik, who most Caps fans (including myself) thought it was a bad signing, but is living up to his contract this season (for now); and most importantly, a confident goaltender in Brendan Holtby.
As of now, the Caps are 3rd in the Metro (yes, I shortened it) division, 7 points ahead of the last wild-card spot, and if the season ended today, they will face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have not scored yet on the Caps this season.
If there is one need for the Caps, it’s likely a backup goalie to take the load off of Holtby. Jason Peters is not the answer and I’m not sure the Caps front office would want Philipp Grubauer to backup Holtby in the playoffs, so a decent veteran needs to be there.
If the Caps do make the playoffs, die hard fans from the mid 90s will have terrible memories when the Caps need to run the gauntlet against the Penguins and if they win that series, they could face the New York Islanders, who are playing in the last year of the Nassau Coliseum. It is also weird that the holdover from the mid 90s Caps teams to today is Barry Trotz. Has Trotz learned his lesson from his time as an assistant for the Caps and as the coach of the Predators?
For the second half, expect a lot of excitement from the team and fans after the Caps didn’t make the playoffs last year. When the playoffs come around, expect a lot of flashbacks. The question is will the nightmares continue or can this team exorcise their demons? We will see.