Barry Trotz needed to return to the drawing board this offseason after failing to get past the next round of the playoffs for the 2nd straight year. The Capitals were undoubtedly the best team at the 2015-16 regular year but were extremely unfortunate to run into a Penguins team which discovered its game later in the summer and remained hot until they hoisted the Stanley Cup after six matches in the closing. This is the problem with seven-game series: it’s incredibly tough to win one, let alone four in a row.
Washington remains a remarkably talented, well-coached team which has a star goalie along with the best goal scorer in the league. The Caps have some heavy expectations weighing on them heading into the new season and if they falter in the playoffs again, there could be some serious changes on the horizon.
Stanley Cup +1000
The Caps are entering their 43rd year this year, which makes it 42 straight years they have not won a Stanley Cup. Thus, what are the chances they can break that trend and also earn their first league title this season? Well, only one group because the 2005-06 lockout, the 2007-08 Red Wings, has been able to win the Cup the year after winning the Presidents’ Trophy. Washington has become decent odds right now due to the crazy line on the Blackhawks, and it is logical for them to be connected together with the Penguins. They must win a Cup sooner or later, right?
Eastern Conference +500
The course record is a little bit better for conference championships but not by a whole lot — Washington has won just one Eastern Conference championship and qualified for the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs just once in its foundation. The Caps haven’t made it beyond the next round of the playoffs since 1997-98 when they won their first and only Prince of Wales Trophy from the Buffalo Sabres en route to their only Finals look, where they had been swept from the Red Wings.
Metropolitan Division +195
The race to the Metropolitan division is predicted to be between just two horses since the Penguins slightly edge the Caps in branch odds at +180 on BetOnline. Pittsburgh is probably going to be a challenging train to cease if they have retained some of the vicious momentum which carried them through the late phases of the 2015-16 season.
The Caps have won nine division championships in their history, including four in a row from 2007 to 2010. Since 2005-06, 27.5 percentage of teams that have lost out in the playoffs at the next round have gone on to win their division the next year. That’s not a great trend for the value being provided but as I mentioned this race is essentially a toss-up between the Caps and Pens — pick your puppy and stick with your guns.
Season Points OVER/UNDER 106.5
Since the NHL adopted the shootout, teams which have led the league in points have gone on to score a mean of 106.5 points the next season — hmmm, sounds familiar. BetOnline really nailed online so it’s hard to find much value here. My only advice is that I can not find the Caps being any worse this year than they had been the last. Goaltender Braden Holtby is in his prime right now and forwards like Evgeny Kuznetzov have made major leaps forward. The bottom teams in their division will be competitive this season in order that they may lose a few of the easy points they earned last season. I believe they go OVER but maybe not by much — I’ll say 109.
The Caps have the greatest projected point total on most betting sites and if they do end up winning back Presidents’ Trophies, watch out. Only eight winners since the inception of the award in 1985 have gone on to win the Cup — that is just 25 per cent of Presidents’ Trophy winners.