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Ovi Chases the Great One
Outside of another triumphant Stanley Cup victory, I think most Caps fans can agree that the main focus over the next few years is Ovechkin chasing Gretzky’s scoring record. Ovi will only need to score 29 more goals per season for the rest of his current contract to catch Gretzky. With each passing year comes another year of elite-level hockey taking a toll on his body. Thankfully for Ovi, he is a Russian Machine who tends to stay very healthy.
Sports Office Prediction: 35+ Goals in 2022-2023
An Aging Core with Young Flare
The Caps enter season as the second-oldest team in the league. With the core players, we have grown to love over the past many years reaching their final few seasons, the Caps are going to need to start relying on their young players. The Caps have a pretty good pipeline of prospects, but as we have seen, Coach Peter Laviolette is happy with the old core. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the lack of experience for younger players could be a bit of a wildcard. But, the season is still early, so I expect a steady rotation of players throughout the year.
Sports Office Prediction: Dylan Strome (25 Y/O) top 5 in Points on the team
Injuries, Injuries, and a few more Injuries
The Caps are in a very very tough spot at the moment with the number of injuries some star players are currently facing. Tom Wilson and Nick Backstrom are out indefinitely with some pretty severe injuries and off-season surgeries. Carl Hagelin may not return to the sport after suffering severe eye damage last year and suffering another injury before the season began. Newly acquired signing Connor Brown has just been placed on LTIR with an undisclosed lower-body injury that may require surgical repairs. And a few other Caps have been showing signs of age with some consistent minor injuries. While this could be a good chance for young guys to get in the lineup, missing the likes of Wilson and Brown long-term will be a huge blow.
Sports Office Prediction: Wilson to Return in February
Competing in a Fast League
I couldn’t tell you the last time the Capitals were known as a fast team. Unless the Caps copy and paste Kuznetsov 4 more times, we’ll consistently be a slower team. One thing the Caps do have that not a lot of other teams in the league have is a brutally physical game. The Caps have been pretty consistent in their game plan for just breaking down the opponent and hitting hard on the forecheck, but can that continue to work in a league becoming dominated by speed? Well, it depends. Playing against the superstars like McDavid and Makar will never be easy, for any team. The Caps can manage to beat the speed by just playing smart and physical in transition. The biggest holes will come from turnovers in the neutral zone and in the opponent’s zone. The Caps tend to get caught out in transition when players get caught below the goal line. If they’re able to keep their game physical and aggressive on the forecheck they can minimize the odd-man rushes. The Capitals are going to need to rely on physical play to help wear down their opponents.
Sports Office Prediction: Wild Card Spot 1- Hopeful playoff run