Despite the Capitals’ early exit from the playoffs, Nicklas Backstrom is still optimistic about the future of the franchise.
After the Capitals fell 4-0 to the Islanders in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round matchup, Backstrom spoke about his response to the series and his hopes for the team next year.
“It’s always tough to lose in the playoffs,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are. I think every time you lose it’s tough. But looking at this series, I think over these five games, they wanted it more than us. You can see that overall. And they were more disciplined than us, too.”
The Capitals came out flat on Thursday and were outhustled by the Islanders for 60 minutes, but as Backstrom noted, that was not unique to Game 5. The drive and fight were not there for Washington throughout the series, which ultimately led to their Stanley Cup dreams being crushed.
However, Backstrom also noted postgame that this team has the ability to rebound and go on a playoff run next season despite their poor performances in the postseason the past two years.
“Every time you lose it’s obviously tough, but somehow you’ve got to regroup and get back next year,” he said.
The Capitals have shown that they can be a very good team year in and year out. In the past three years, they’ve gone from winning the cup to losing in the first round twice in a row. And given the unprecedented and unusual circumstances of this season, it was not their year. But that doesn’t mean next year can’t be.
The team will have to address many pressing questions this offseason like what they will do in free agency. With Braden Holtby, Brenden Dillon and Ilya Kovalchuk just a few of the big names entering free agency, the Capitals could see significant change.
But as Backstrom noted, the team that played these past five games (with the exception of periods two and three in Game 4) is not the Capitals team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago. However, that team can return again.