At long last, hockey is almost back! The Capitals begin the 2020 postseason on Aug. 3, nearly five months after the 2019-20 season was initially paused due to the coronavirus. That’s a long time ago. Let’s take a look back at the biggest stories of the 2019-20 season to refresh our memories before the Caps continue their quest for a second Stanley Cup.
One of the big questions heading into the 2020 postseason is which teams would benefit the most from the extra rest? The obvious answer is the teams with the most injuries.
Per usual, the Caps were one of the healthiest teams in the league this year so it will not be a completely new roster when they hit the ice like it will for teams like Pittsburgh and Columbus. In fact, instead of gaining new players, Washington actually lost a few.
Forward Brendan Leipsic had his contract terminated by the team in May in response to offensive social media comments being made public. He was signed in 2019 to a one-year contract and had three goals and eight assists in 61 games.
The big news is that goalie Ilya Samsonov suffered an injury prior to training camp. He did not participate in any practice and was left off the team’s travel roster for Toronto. That’s a big loss after Samsonov put together a brilliant rookie season in which he went 16-6-2 with a 2.55 GAA and .913 save percentage. At times he was outplaying Braden Holtby so to not have that safety net there is significant.
But the long pause did have its benefits.
Michal Kempny underwent surgery to repair a torn hamstring in April of 2019. Though he returned early in the 2019-20 season, he did not look right physically or mentally. The pause to the season has now brought him over a year past the surgery and the hope is that he can return to being the top-pair defenseman he was for the team prior to the injury.
In addition, the Caps are not what you would call a “young” team and rank among the oldest teams in the playoffs.
Here's the average age of the 24 NHL teams involved in the restart: pic.twitter.com/H2ywugfSxS— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 28, 2020
In fact, Cap Friendly ranks them as the oldest based on the projected 20-man game roster.
Rank of the 24 return to play teams by average age (youngest to oldest):— CapFriendly Depth Charts (@CF_DepthCharts) July 14, 2020
A few months off before the grind of the Stanley Cup Playoffs should certainly do wonders for veteran players like Nicklas Backstrom (32), John Carlson (30), Lars Eller (30), Carl Hagelin (31), Braden Holtby (30), Ilya Kovalchuk (37), T.J. Oshie (33) and Alex Ovechkin (34).
Sure, Washington is not going to get as many injured players back, but the team will still benefit from the rest considering how many veterans play vital roles for the team.
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