The Washington Capitals saw another first-round playoff departure this past season, as they lost to the New York Islanders in five games. The Caps will still compete for their second Stanley Cup this coming season, as our NHL predictions for the team will reveal.
But much of what the Capitals will do this season will depend on how well their goaltending works this season. The team must also fix its power play if it wants to contend.
But the good news is that the Caps have some of the most talented players in the league to help. We find that the Caps won’t be quick out in this season’s playoffs, although they still have work to complete.
A Goaltending Change
Braden Holtby left the Capitals this offseason for the Vancouver Canucks, prompting the Caps to take a new direction in the position this season. The Capitals will have Ilya Samsonov as their top goaltender this season.
Last season was Samsonov’s first season in the NHL. The first-round pick from 2015 went 16-6-2 last season with a 2.55 GAA. He shows that he can be a high-value player for the Capitals, and he’ll also be playing under the support of development coach and former Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig.
The team will have former New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist as a backup. Lundqvist’s could be a quality educator for Samsonov, but he might want to compete a little harder this season to try and steal the starting position. Lundqvist can still last for a while and is capable of starting at least thirty games a season, so he should be useful for back-to-back situations.
Other Things to Spot
The Capitals had seven players with forty or more points last season, and all seven of them are coming back in 2021. It’s hard to bet against Alex Ovechkin, plus Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson will remain strong forces to spot this season.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 22, 2020
But the most significant concern for the Capitals this season entails how well the power play will work. The Capitals completed a little over 19 percent of their power plays last year, a weak number when their offensive firepower is considered. New head coach Peter Laviolette hopes to fix this issue.
Where Will the Capitals Finish in Their Division?
Our NHL predictions have the Washington Capitals finishing in second place in the Atlantic Division. While the Caps have an inexperienced starting goaltender, the recent cases of Jordan Binnington and Matt Murray prove that a young goaltender can be a star right away. Expect Ilya Samsonov to carry the Capitals to a strong performance in 2021, as the Caps will fight the Boston Bruins for the Atlantic Division title.
How Far Will the Capitals Go in the Playoffs?
The Washington Capitals won’t be a quick exit from the 2021 playoffs, but they won’t get to the Stanley Cup Finals. Our NHL predictions say that the Capitals will reach the second round, but they will lose to either the Boston Bruins or the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Washington Capitals will need to improve their power play setup this season if they’re going to compete. The team will also require efficient goaltender play if they want to go places in 2021. All signs point to the Capitals having a great chance of making waves this coming season.
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Image by: Michael Miller