Ovechkin’s production takes center stage for Capitals
LAST SEASON: 55-19-8, 118 points. Won Metropolitan Division. Lost to Pittsburgh Penguins in second round.
COACH: Barry Trotz (fifth season, 16th NHL season).
ADDED: F Tyler Graovac, RW Devante Smith-Pelly
LOST: RW Justin Williams, F Marcus Johansson, F Daniel Winnik, D Karl Alzner, D Nate Schmidt, D Kevin Shattenkirk
PLAYER TO WATCH: Alex Ovechkin. At 32, the Russian superstar is being counted on to adapt his game and stay relevant as hockey gets quicker. Ovechkin’s 33 goals in 2016-17 were his lowest in a non-lockout season since 2010-11 and after so much talent departed in free agency he’ll have to produce. Ovechkin can still pump the puck in on the power play, so everyone will be watching how he does at even-strength.
OUTLOOK: Just because the past two seasons represented the Capitals’ best chances to win the Stanley Cup doesn’t mean their window is closed. Their blue line is thin on depth, but they have the best goaltending tandem in the league and starter Braden Holtby is good enough to carry them on a run to the Cup final. As always, the question is whether Washington can get to the Eastern Conference final, especially if it means another series against Pittsburgh.
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