The 2018 Stanley Cup run will always hold a special place in Capitals fans' hearts. Although the team has been unable to make it out of the first round of the playoffs since that magical season, that could change this upcoming spring.
Speaking on Capitals Postgame Live following Washington's 5-3 victory over Nashville on Wednesday, NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May said the current Capitals team reminds him of the Stanley Cup-winning club.
"The year the Capitals won the Cup, they had a solid team, they started to play a better system late in the season and they got pretty lucky in the playoffs not having the injuries they had before," May said. "I think this team is more capable to have players step in and step up than the 2018 team."
May pointed out that health is as big of a factor as any when it becomes playoff time. In 2018, the Capitals were able to overcome a hand injury to Nicklas Backstrom along with a Tom Wilson three-game suspension en route to a title. Washington had several players step up during that run from Lars Eller at center to winger Devante Smith-Pelly.
This year has been a different story. Due to injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak, the Capitals have played an abnormal amount of players so far. May believes this experience will be an advantage for the team come playoff time.
"The Capitals have so much depth at defense. The young goaltenders, in my opinion, have been excellent all season long," May said.
After shuffling through multiple lineups throughout the first part of the season, the Capitals are starting to get healthy. Several key players have returned from injuries or COVID-19 protocols, including Oshie and Backstrom.
"When you look up top, with the amount of forwards the Capitals have used this season, to be able to throw players around, mix up the lines and you've had great production out of [Alex] Ovechkin and Kuznetsov," May said. "They provided the weight at the start, then the other players started to catch up. The rookies have done an incredible job. But now, you get Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Eller, [Nic] Dowd back slotted where they are, that's the reason I believe in this team and how far they can go."
Now that the Capitals are starting to get to full strength, May is excited about the outlook for the rest of Washington's season.
"This team right now, I'm very excited about what they can do going on the rest of the season because of the defensive depth and the way they've been able to adapt game to game," May said.