Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What This Year's Caps Must Remember from History

The Washington Capitals enter the 2015-16 season with extremely high expectations. With the signing of Justin Williams and the trade for TJ Oshie, the Caps enter the season with a great chance of building upon last year's seven game second round loss.

However, as all Caps fans know, potential means nothing when the playoffs come around. After 40 years of disappointment, I don't think there is a single Caps fan getting his hopes too high up.

With that in mind, let's look at some of the previous Caps teams who were in a similar situation to this year's team and see what happened to them.


The 1988-89 Caps were coming off of a Game 7 defeat in the second round of the 1988 playoffs against the New Jersey Devils. The 88-89 regular season was arguably the most successful in Caps history to that point, as the team won the division for the first time in franchise history and placed second in the conference. The team was strong both offensively and defensively, with two 40 goal scorers (Geoff Courtnall and Mike Ridley) and two 80 point scorers (same two) and a defense starring Rod Langway, Scott Stevens and Kevin Hatcher.

Despite the success in the regular season, the Caps were knocked out in the first round by the Philadelphia Flyers, losing in six games. Needless to say, it was a huge disappointment.


Yeah, let's not even get into this one, OK? As if the seven game second round loss to Pittsburgh the year before wasn't painful enough.


The 2012 Caps survived Hunter Hockey, knocked out the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, and pushed the Eastern Conference first seed New York Rangers to seven games. The 2013 season started in the middle of January after the end of the lockout. The Caps were very optimistic about their chances considering they were still in the Southeast Division, had a new coach in Adam Oates, and had addressed their lack of forward depth by trading Cody Eakin and a pick for Mike Ribeiro and signing Wojtek Wolski.

Hmm... trading for one player and signing another player to fix a team weakness... wait a minute...

As we all know, despite stumbling out of the gate, a huge second half by Alex Ovechkin led the Caps into the playoffs, where they blew a 3-2 lead and lost, once again, in the first round, this time to the New York Rangers. Yet another disappointment.

In conclusion, this version of the Caps may be better than the 1988-89, 2009-10 and 2013 teams, but if we fans have learned anything from the franchise over the past 40 years, it's that anything can happen with this team. Hopefully, with one of the smartest coaches in franchise history, a deep offense, stellar goaltending, and a solid defense, this year's Caps team can rise above the others.

However, until they give us reasons for optimism, I don't think most of us fans are going to be expecting too much from them.

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