Washington Capitals ain’t Broken, so why Fix Them?
Posted by: Anthony Yaylor
The Capitals were like the Warriors only not quite. NHL betting favorites who fell short of the expectations they raised during the regular season. Washington was the recipient of the 2015-16 President’s Trophy to the team with the best regular season record (the Caps finished 56–18–8). As such, they had home-ice advantage in all four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The problem is, they were eliminated 4-2 in the second round by eventual champions the Pittsburgh Penguins. In spite of this – or maybe because of it – coach Barry Trotz will not tinker around too much with his lineup, other than perhaps adding a forward to the bottom six.
GM Brian MacLellan has repeatedly said that the Capitals have a two-year window to win the Stanley Cup with Karl Alzner, T. J. Oshie and Justin Williams before they become unrestricted free agents. Year 1 came and went last season, so it’s a race against the clock for Trotz and MacLellan. They traded two second-round picks in 2017 and 2018 to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for third line center Lars Eller to take the place of Mike Richards, so NHL betting fans should not expect them to be too active during the unrestricted free agency market. “I know who my 12 forwards are,” Trotz said.
The head coach doesn’t see any need for drastic changes, and says that the Capitals will not “play a lot differently.” Therefore, people who bet on hockey at least will know what to expect from Washington. Trotz does not want to get caught in the “copycat League” pattern of many teams that will certainly attempt to imitate the Penguins, adding speed to play a pressure game at both ends of the ice and combine that with scoring depth all through the lineup. However, as much as those teams try to follow the Penguins’ roster blueprint – and even succeed with the third and fourth lines – they simply cannot recreate Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Trotz figures the Capitals are in the same league as the Penguins – figuratively as well as literally – saying that “we’re probably as close to the Penguins as you’re going to be.” Among the few additions that the Washington Capitals have made thus far are Paul Carey – whom they called up from the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears – and free agent Aaron Ness, who was signed to the New York Islanders but mostly played with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL. All things considered, if you keep a great team together, NHL betting fans can expect that team to be great again, but can they also expect it to be the greatest?