The Washington Capitals have been a force to be reckoned with in the National Hockey League (NHL) since their inception in 1974. With a rich history and loyal fan base, the Capitals have solidified their place in the hockey world by consistently showcasing their talent and determination on the ice. And in recent years, the Capitals have made history by winning their first Stanley Cup Championship in the 2017-2018 season, followed by back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons.
But the journey to the top for the Capitals was not an easy one. For decades, the team faced heartbreak and disappointment, making it all the more sweet when they finally lifted the Stanley Cup. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Capitals’ historic seasons, reliving the unforgettable moments and celebrating the players who helped bring the championship home to Washington, D.C.
The Early Years: Building the Foundation
The Capitals’ first few seasons in the league were marked by struggles and challenges. In their inaugural season, the team finished with a dismal record of 8-67-5, setting the record for the fewest wins in a season in NHL history. However, the Capitals slowly but surely began to build a strong foundation, drafting young talents such as Rod Langway and Mike Gartner, who would become key players in the team’s future success.
Despite these bright spots, the Capitals continued to struggle throughout the 1980s, with early playoff exits and mediocre regular season performances. But in 1993, the team welcomed a young Russian prodigy by the name of Alexander Ovechkin, who would change the course of the franchise and become one of the greatest players in NHL history.
The Ovechkin Era: A Decade of Dominance
With the addition of Ovechkin, the Capitals immediately became a more competitive team. In his rookie season, Ovechkin scored 52 goals and 106 points, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year. From there, Ovechkin would go on to dominate the league, winning the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals in a season seven times and becoming the first player in history to score 50 or more goals in his first six NHL seasons.
But Ovechkin’s individual success did not always translate to team success. The Capitals consistently made the playoffs but failed to make it past the second round. It wasn’t until 2015-2016, under head coach Barry Trotz, that the team finally broke through to playoff success, winning their first Presidents’ Trophy and making it to the second round of the playoffs.
The Historic 2017-2018 Season: Bringing Home the Stanley Cup
Entering the 2017-2018 season, the Capitals had a chip on their shoulder. Year after year, they had been labeled as playoff underachievers, talented but unable to seal the deal when it mattered most. But this season would be different.
Led by Ovechkin’s 49 goals and 87 points, the Capitals finished the regular season with a record of 49-26-7, earning them their third Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history. However, the true test would come in the playoffs.
In the first round, the Capitals faced their longtime rivals, the Columbus Blue Jackets. After losing the first two games at home, the Capitals rallied back to win the series in six games. This would become a trend for the Capitals, as they went on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, the team who had eliminated them from the playoffs in the past two years. After being down 3-2 in the series, the Capitals battled back to win the series in seven games, exorcising the demons of their past playoff losses.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals faced the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had the best record in the NHL that season. But the Capitals never faltered, winning the series in seven games and advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 20 years.
In the Finals, the Capitals faced the upstart Vegas Golden Knights, who were playing in their inaugural season. After losing the first game, the Capitals went on to win four straight, winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Championship. Ovechkin was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP, and the Capitals finally shed their label as playoff underachievers.
Back-to-Back Presidents’ Trophies: Solidifying Their Dominance
In the two seasons following their Stanley Cup win, the Capitals continued to dominate, winning back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies for the second time in franchise history. While they were unable to make it past the first round of the playoffs in these seasons, the Capitals continued to showcase their talent and determination on the ice.
Looking to the Future: Building a Dynasty
As the Capitals look to the future, they have their sights set on creating a dynasty, a team that can consistently contend for the Stanley Cup year after year. With Ovechkin still playing at a high level, and young talents such as Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson, the Capitals are poised to remain a force in the NHL for years to come.
Washington Capitals Historic Seasons: A Legacy of Victory
The Washington Capitals have built a legacy of victory over their 47 years in the NHL. From their struggles in the early years to finally bringing home the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Capitals have shown resilience and determination in the face of adversity. As they continue to compete at the highest level and build upon their historic championship years, the Capitals will forever be a staple in the world of hockey.