The 2018 Stanley Cup Champions, The Washington Capitals, are once again off to a phenomenal start to their season. As of Dec. 5, the team is 21-4-5 and leading the Metropolitan Division by nine points, followed by the New York Islanders, coached by Barry Trotz, the former coach of the Capitals who led them to their Stanley Cup Championship in 2018.
Throughout the season thus far, the Capitals have dominated on the ice, starting with their goaltenders, who have been spectacular. In an article done by Yahoo Sports, they attribute much of the success of the team to the stellar goaltending job by Braden Holtby and Ilya Samsonov. The article states, “Braden Holtby has been a solid, if not top-tier goaltender so far this season, but backup Ilya Samsonov has been a huge difference maker. He has a 7-2-1 record, 2.42 goals against average and .917 save percentage in ten games this season.” Instead of having to rely solely on the team’s stalwart goaltender, Braden Holtby, they have been able to use Samsonov in high leverage situations to give Holtby rest which will prove to be huge throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
Another player who has proved to be a difference maker for the team is defenseman John Carlson. Samantha Pell of The Washington Post asserts that “In the early race for the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL’s top defenseman, Carlson is the clear favorite. He has 42 points (11 goals, 31 assists) through 30 games. The only defenseman to tally more points in that same span is Bobby Orr in 1974-75.” In the early going of the season, Carlson has been dominant on the ice and has proven to be worth the eight year 64 million dollar investment that the Capitals gave him in 2018. When interviewed by Pell after the game, he was very submissive of his success, stating: “There’s a lot of great players I’m playing with that make me look pretty good right now, we have got a real good start to the season.”
Not only does the team play well on the ice, but they have a camaraderie that is truly special and contributes largely to their success. Many of the players have a strong bond and are good friends as well as teammates. Fourth line forwards Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway produce a podcast called “Between Two Blue Lines” in which they talk about hockey and have fun while in the process. As a result of the camaraderie that has been built the whole team is thriving, especially the fourth line. In an interview by Pell with head coach Todd Reirden, he states that “[The fourth line has] been good all year together and it’s nice to see them get rewarded with some goals, especially for Garnet. Hasn’t been the easiest of the last six or seven games for him. They really set the tone for our team, and everyone hops on board with their work ethic and competes.”
The Washington Capitals franchise has a culture that is incomparable to many other organizations, as they are more like a family, who has a history of being perennial contenders in the National Hockey League. In the quest for another Stanley Cup title, the Capitals have the pieces in place to make another run deep in the playoffs as they have their sights on hosting another parade through the District of Columbia.