Seems everywhere I’ve gone this summer, when friends and colleagues stop to talk hockey, these words inevitably come up:
“I like what the Caps have done this summer. Get ready for a long run next season.”
Three days after a former NHL player stopped me at a local Lowe’s and predicted the Capitals and Anaheim Ducks would meet in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, those same sentiments appeared in print and online in preseason predictions by The Hockey News and ESPN.
(OK, so my buddy Scott Burnside listed the Caps and Ducks as the first of five Stanley Cup Finals he’d like to see and predicted Alex Semin would score the Cup-winning goal for the Montreal Canadiens in another).
But it is worth noting that Anaheim coach Bruce Broudreau and Capitals coach Barry Trotz, while very different in their personalities, share a similar track record in the playoffs and have become sentimental favorites across the hockey globe.
Boudreau, 60, helped put Washington back on the hockey map by winning four straight Southeast Division titles from 2008-11, but failed to get the Caps past the second round in each of those seasons and was fired seven weeks into the 2011-12 season.
Two days later the Ducks hired Boudreau and after two more playoff shortcomings he finally got Anaheim into the Western Conference Finals, only to absorb a gut-wrenching 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks in Game 7.
Trotz, 53, successfully sold the game of hockey to the city of Nashville and took the Predators to the playoffs seven times from 2004-12, but, like Boudreau, he never made it past the second round. In his first season with the Caps he also lost a Game 7 heart-breaker, this one a 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Round 2.
The Ducks (our season preview here) beefed up their roster by adding forwards Carl Hagelin, Chris Stewart and Shawn Horcoff, along with defenseman Kevin Bieksa and goaltender Anton Khudobin, while the Caps added forwards T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams and are poised to promote goaltender Philipp Grubauer as a backup to Braden Holtby (goaltending preview coming later today).
We won’t spoil it for you with the gory details, but neither of the aforementioned prediction pieces anticipate a championship parade through the streets of our nation’s capital next summer, but what about you?
What do you think needs to happen for the Caps to reach their full potential and bring D.C. its first Stanley Cup? Join the conversation.