6. Washington Capitals
- 2014-15 Finish: 2nd Place
This is the big drop off, right here. Last season the Washington Capitals, lead by dynamic goal scorer Alex Ovechkin, turned in quite the impressive season. Oveechkin did not do it alone, as the Capitals really bought into head coach Barry Trotz’s team first mentality. Then there was Braden Holtby. The Capitals finally gave Holtby the job and he did not disappoint. He had an amazing second half, one which carried into the playoffs.
The Caps are very system oriented, and play a grind it out style. Their deficiencies really showed in their playoff rounds against the Islanders and Rangers. They advanced against the Islanders using smoke and mirrors, and some flat out dirty play. It was probably one of the worst officiated series of hockey the NHL has ever seen. The Islanders outplayed the Capitals in much of the series but the Capitals did just enough and the Islanders forgot to show up for a Game 7. Where the Islanders failed, the Rangers succeeded. The Capitals tried their best to run the Rangers over, but the Rangers were just a little faster and the Rangers defense moved the puck a little quicker than the Islanders. That was the difference.
The Capitals brought in TJ Oshie to add depth to the offense. The Capitals will also need youngsters Evgny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky to find production in a defense first system. That is often difficult for younger players. The defense is steady and works hard. The Captials have been anb inconsistent franchise of late. Ovechkin is happy, that is a plus. Expect the Caps to be in the mix, but eventually tumble a few spots in the Met.