By Bill Sands
At the beginning of the year, we outlined a list of New Year’s Resolutions for the Washington Capitals and included several key items that would determine how successful 2018 would be for Washington. With the season coming to a close, it’s time to check in on these goals and see how the Caps did.
Get Philipp Grubauer Some Help: Check
The Caps get an “A+” for this one. After a rocky start to the season, Grubauer has had a breakout second half, posting all-star numbers and claiming the #1 goalie job. A large reason for this success stems from the Caps’ improved play in front of him.
Early in the year, Grubauer often got little goal support and was frequently the victim of defensive lapses. After the holiday break, however, he’s been the beneficiary of strong support and he has returned the favor by racking up 13 wins in 2018 alone. Grubauer has made a strong case for himself to start the playoffs for the Caps between the pipes.
Stay Healthy: Check
Staying healthy in the NHL is always a bit of a conundrum. There’s not much that can be done to avoid injury, but whatever the secret is, the Capitals have it figured out. Washington has only had to deal with minor injuries, and key players such as Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie have only missed minimal playing time due to various ailments. After dealing with a thumb injury in the winter, Andre Burakovsky has come back strong and is now a crucial component in the top six; knock on wood, because the Caps will need all hands on deck for the playoff push. The only setback in this department was the recent injury to face-off guru Jay Beagle.
Get Every Caps Forward to 20 Points: Check-Minus
The Caps came pretty close on this one, but couldn’t quite get every forward to the 20-point mark. Alex Chiasson (18), Chandler Stephenson (17), and Devante Smith-Pelley (16) all came up a little short. With one game left, it’s not impossible that Chiasson hits 20, but don’t put any money on that happening.
These lower point totals hurt a lot less when you consider the other ways in which these players have an impact on the ice. DSP has become an integral part of the penalty kill and can be counted on as a strong physical presence on the fore-check, while Stephenson brings a much-needed element of speed to the lineup. Even Chiasson has been a steady presence on the third and fourth lines.
All in all, 2018 has been a good year for the Caps. They’ve won another division title and are flying under the radar as potential Stanley Cup favorites, but as we all know, the regular season doesn’t mean much in Washington these days.