Photo Courtesy of The Washington Times
What Stanley Cup hangover? The Capitals have all the makings of a team that can repeat.
By Chris Yackel
The Washington Capitals have started this 2018-19 season with a respectable 3-2-1 record. It’s a very small sample size don’t get me wrong, but the idea of a Stanley Cup hangover doesn’t seem to resonate with this team early on. There were many folks coming into the season that thought the Caps would have a rough start or Stanley Cup hangover. When you look at this team however, I have no clue why anyone thought they would or still will.
One of the reasons this team will not slow down from last year and not suffer a Stanley Cup hangover is due to their star players. You see it early on as all the Capitals main stars are producing early. Evgeny Kuznetsov has picked up right where he left off last season with 10 points. Alex Ovechkin has 6 goals and 9 points already this season, as his lethal one timer from the left side seems to be getting better with age. Nicklas Backstrom is doing what he does best, as he has 9 points and 8 assists thus far. John Carlson who was fantastic all last season is playing up to his mega 8-year extension he signed this offseason as he has 9 points. Finally, TJ Oshie has 7 points to this point as well.
Usually when there is a Stanley Cup hangover, the best players are usually the one’s that are struggling early on. This team quite literally has non of their top players struggling. I realize 6 games is an incredibly small sample size, but if the Capitals stars are producing early and often, barring injury that should be the same case throughout most of this season.
Another reason the Capitals will not slow down this year is because, they have almost their entire roster returning this season. It is very rare for that to happen as most Stanley Cup championship teams are ripped apart after a season, due to salary cap constraints. You saw that with the Blackhawks (who did a great job plugging holes and drafting well to win more cups). However, we can look at the Capitals rivals in the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins as a team that wasn’t ripped apart after championship success the year prior. That 2016-17 Pittsburgh team only lost one player from the year prior off their roster. The Capitals are almost in the same predicament as they too did not lose much from the season before.
Ultimately, the biggest reason I believe this team won’t slow down and have a great chance to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions is because, they are a mentally strong team. This clearly was not the case prior to last season with the countless playoff disappointments, but those disappointments ultimately made this team stronger in the end. They finally got past the second round and Pittsburgh, finally won the Stanley Cup and finally got that humongous monkey off their backs. Now I believe the sky’s the limit. Now that they’ve experienced victory and hurdled all the challenges they couldn’t previously, I think they’ll be able to do it again. The Capitals have the team; we saw them do it last year. Doing it again however, is even harder. If there is any team that can do it though, the Caps are a mentally strong team that can. Never thought I’d say that two years ago.
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