It’s no secret the Capitals have been one of the NHL’s most successful teams since the salary cap was instituted for the 2005-2006 season. But in terms of playoff success, they might be a little lower than first thought.
This week The Athletic published a ranking of each NHL team over the salary-cap era by virtue of their playoff success. The most points were given for winning a Stanley Cup, followed by losing in the Stanley Cup, then losing in the conference finals. Making the playoffs counted for one point.
The top of that list should surprise no one, as the Penguins ran away from the pack — a fact Capitals fans are all too aware of. The Capitals lost to the Penguins in the 2009, 2016 and 2017 second round of the playoffs — and each year, they hoisted the Stanley Cup.
The Capitals placed eighth, falling behind teams like the Blackhawks and Lightning, who have multiple Stanley Cups, and were tied with the Sharks, who have made it a point to continually knock on a title’s doorstep since the lockout.
Before their Stanley Cup victory in 2018, the Capitals were the encapsulation of regular-season success without playoff success to follow. Up until that Stanley Cup win, the Capitals had never reached the conference final in the Alex Ovechkin era. That came despite the fact that they'd made the playoffs in each season but one since 2008.
Since the 2005-06 season, the Capitals have the second-most points of any team with 1,524 (688 wins, 416 losses and 146 overtime losses) behind just the Penguins (1,536 points, 704 wins). When it comes to winning games over the last 15 years, nearly no team has been better than the Capitals.
But winning a Stanley Cup is mighty difficult, which should make the Lightning’s feat of going back-to-back all that more impressive.