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Well well well the time has finally come! Your 21-22 Washington Capitals are back on the ice in D.C. and hoping to make a longer playoff run this season (getting out of the 1st round) and obviously the main goal is to be lifting Lord Stanley at the end of the season.
The Caps really did not make any splashes this off-season, which is fine in my opinion they are focusing on the squad they have now and the boys haven’t finished lower than second place in their division.
As previously mentioned D.C. was very quiet this off-season when it comes to acquisitions. Some minor changes to make note of was the departure of defenseman Brenden Dillon who was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for two second round picks in 2022 and 2023 draft. We also thought we lost goalie Vitek Vanecek to Seattle in the expansion draft, but after a week of sweating having to solely rely on Samsonov for the upcoming season. Then a week later the Caps re-acquired VV for the 2023 second round pick (phew).
The biggest move the Caps made this offseason was locking up our lord and savior Alex Ovechkin for the foreseeable future (Cap for life) at $9.5 mill over five years. This re-signing pretty much locks it in that Ovi will be wearing a Cap’s sweater when he passes Gretzky on the all-time goals list.
From what I have been seeing these are the tentative starting lines to start the season:
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Anthony Mantha — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie
Conor Sheary — Lars Eller — Daniel Sprong
Carl Hagelin — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Dmitry Orlov — John Carlson
Michal Kempny — Justin Schultz
Trevor Van Riemsdyk — Nick Jensen
The biggest thing missing from list this is that top prospect Connor McMichael isn’t on this list he needs to be in this lineup sooner rather than later. Connor worked out with Connor McDavid and Steven Stamkos this offseason (ever heard of them!), McMichael also added six pounds of muscle this offseason as well, so lets hope he’s scratching the starting lineup in D.C. sooner rather than later because we need the addition of some youth into this squad.
Just like the last couple years in D.C. if the Caps expect to make a serious playoff run we need the core of this team Ovi, Carlson, Backy, Wilson, Oshie, and Kuzy to put up big numbers offensively because the lack of offensive production these last couple seasons has been borderline pathetic. I think this is the make or break year for Kuzy because he has been inconsistent as of late so he needs to either step it up scoring or honestly in any part of his game, because one game he can be the best on the ice and then be completely non-existent in another game that just can not happen to a guy with his skill level!
The Caps will be looking to go with a goalie by committee this season again from the look of it with Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek splitting time or riding who has the hot hand each week. VV (.908 SV%, 2.69 GAA) was really having a solid season last year before he got hurt in the first game of the playoffs. Also with Sammy being in COVID protocol which seemed like the whole season last year I really hope he has his shit together this season and is solid between the pipes this season.
The Caps will open the season with a three-game homestand, beginning with a home opener against the New York Rangers on October 13th at Capital One Arena. I want to talk about this game real quick because Rangers fans are acting like this game is their Stanley Cup (LOL) because they have NHL “bad boy” Ryan Reaves now (Oooooooooo soooooo scary) dudes is pylon on the ice. They are looking at this as a another revenge game (eye roll). Lets hope our boys put a crooked number against the Rangers game one to set the tone. (talking to you Ked)
I am looking forward to writing about our Caps again this season and I hope you all are ready to ride with me! #ALLCAPS