Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan took a long hard look at where the Caps stand on offense, defense, goaltending and special teams at the bye week and gave their team MVP's. Now it's time to look forward at what they think will happen the rest of the season.
El-Bashir three bold predictions
1. You may want to take a seat for this one. Alex Ovechkin and Co. will pick up where they left off, finish atop the league standings (again) and then overcome the Presidents’ Trophy Curse by beating Bruce Boudreau’s Wild in the Stanley Cup final. Talk about a ratings bonanza.
2. Justin Williams will finish the season with 28 goals—his highest total since 2006-07. But that isn’t what Mr. Game 7 will be remembered for this year. The 35-year-old will stay hot in the postseason and capture the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP for the second time.
3. Connor McDavid has a (really) ridiculous final couple of months, finishes with 100 points on the nose, cruises to the Art Ross Trophy and holds of Sidney Crosby for the Hart. McDavid will also lead the Oilers to the second round of the playoffs for the first time 2006 and just the second time since 1998.
Regan three bold predictions
1. The Capitals will play a Metropolitan Division team in every round of the playoffs up to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Caps are going to finish first in the Metro meaning they will face a wild card team in the first round. As of right now, that team would be Toronto, but that's not going to last. The Leafs will overtake Boston for third in the Atlantic and the Bruins will fall out of the wild card behind the New York Islanders who will sneak into the postseason. Columbus will be the other wild card team and move over to the Atlantic. Here's the thing, while Columbus may not be as good as they were when they won 16 straight, does anyone have any faith in any Atlantic teams? The Blue Jackets will win their first two rounds and meet Washington in the conference final.
2. The Caps will not win any individual awards for the regular season. Alex Ovechkin will lose his scoring title to Sidney Crosby while Nicklas Backstrom will fall short of the Art Ross behind Connor McDavid. In the voted awards, Braden Holtby will lose the Vezina to Devan Dubnyk while the Hart will go to McDavid for leading the Edmonton Oilers to the playoffs. That will leave the Caps players empty-handed this year despite leading the team to its second consecutive Presidents' Trophy.
3. Washington will play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals. I know, I know. I can hear the complaints already. "Both writers are predicting the Caps to play for the Stanley Cup? Homers!" In my defense, I have never picked Washington win the Cup. Ever. This team, however, is different. Through all the years of Bruce Boudreau, you could say of all those teams "they're great but...". Even last year's team, sure they were great, but they weren't playing as well at the end of the season. There's no "but" this year. They are great on offense, defense and in net. Despite inconsistencies on special teams, they still rank in the top five in both power play and special teams. Washington is getting scoring from all four lines, they are healthy and they have veteran leadership in guys like Justin Williams. They also remember the sting of last year's loss and are well aware that a lot of players may be on their way out in the offseason. This is the year they return to the finals.
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