Capitals

Quick Links

Season preview: Ottawa Senators

hammond.jpg

Season preview: Ottawa Senators

To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.

Today’s team: Ottawa Senators

2014-15 record: 43-26-13, 4th in the Atlantic

How they finished: Lost in six games to Montreal in the Conference Quarterfinals

Coach: Dave Cameron (2nd season)

Notable additions: None

Notable subtractions: G Robin Lehner, C David Legwand, D Eric Gryba, RW Erik Condra

RELATED: Ovechkin vows NHL players will be in 2018 Olympics

Schedule against the Capitals: Wed. Dec. 16 at Washington, Sun. Jan. 10 at Washington, Tue. Mar. 22 at Ottawa

Outlook: After a slow start to the season last year, the Senators really took off when Dave Cameron took over as head coach for Paul MacLean. Because of the team's success with so many young players, the Senators have decided to double down this year by electing to trade away veterans like David Legwand and Eric Gryba and also allowed Erik Condra to sign elsewhere.

Cameron made a real commitment to his young players and that trend will surely continue which gives prospects like Shane Prince and Chris Wideman a chance to make the team.

Something scary to consider is that Erik Karlsson who has already won two Norris Trophies is only 25. We may not have even seen him hit his peak yet. With so many young players on the roster who are only getting better such as Karlsson and Mark Stone, the Senators could have a fairly dangerous lineup.

The real question with this team comes down to goaltending. Am I the only one who thinks Ottawa made a big mistake by trading away Robin Lehner?

Last season, Andrew Hammond was able to carry this team into the postseason with an insane 20-1-2 record. Despite how much they depended on him to get them there, the Senators were pretty quick to turn to Craig Anderson after falling into an 0-2 hole in their series against Montreal.

In the offseason, the 27-year-old 'Hamburglar' was signed to a 3-year deal at $1.35 million per year. Compare that to Devan Dubnyk's new deal. Dubnyk, 29, was acquired during the season by Minnesota in a trade. He also carried his team into the playoffs and he was rewarded with a six-year deal at about $4.333 million per year.

Money talks and the money says that the Senators don't trust Hammond as much as you may think. He was abandoned quickly in the playoffs and what amounts to a backup goalie's contract.

If they want him to backup Anderson, that's fine. Anderson has been phenomenal for the Ottawa...when he's on the ice. After being traded from Colorado in 2011, Anderson has had a lot of injury issues, playing in 50 or more games for the Senators only twice.

So Ottawa decided to trade away the 24-year-old Lehner in favor of a goalie who even they don't seem to trust and the injury-prone Anderson. If they didn't believe in Lehner either, then perhaps this is an understandable move, but it could blow up in Ottawa's face if their tandem struggles and Lehner excels as Buffalo's starter.

Expectations: The Senators are going to be an interesting team to watch because they have all the pieces to be a very good team, the trick is going to be finding a way to make it all click the way it did when Hammond stepped in for them last season.

With a full season to play under Cameron, a healthy Anderson and the continued development of young stars like Karlsson and Stone, Ottawa can make a lot of noise this season. They need more out of Bobby Ryan, but the potential is there.

They could also just as easily flop.

The young players may not be as far along as the team had hoped or Anderson may suffer yet another injury and who knows how Hammond will play this season?

There is a lot of uncertainty here.

If everything falls their way, this is definitely a playoff team and one capable of an upset or two, but not yet a contender. If things don't fall their way, the mantra could quickly turn into developing the young players for the 2016-17 season.

MORE CAPS: Should Kolzig be in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

See more team previews:

Pacific Division 
Anaheim Ducks 
Arizona Coyotes 
Calgary Flames 
Edmonton Oilers 
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks 
Vancouver Canucks

Central Division 
Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche
Dallas Stars
Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division 
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens
Tampa Bay Lightning 8/21 
Toronto Maple Leafs 8/22

Metropolitan Division 
Carolina Hurricanes 8/23 
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24 
New Jersey Devils 8/25 
New York Islanders 8/26 
New York Rangers 8/27 
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28 
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29 
Washington Capitals 8/30

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

Quick Links

Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

ap_18146636573129.jpg
AP Images

Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

The wait is finally over. 

After two decades, the Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Final. 

After a convincing 4-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals are in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights. They'll be facing off against a handful of familiar names, with former Caps GM George McPhee, fan favorite Nate Schmidt, and ex-Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fluery are just a few of the names that'll be suiting up for Vegas. 

What will the X-factors in the series be? Who will be the unexpected heroes of Game 1? The action is almost underway, and here are all the details you need to know.

Game 1 Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV.
TV Channel: NBCSN 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)

WHEN IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES?

Game 1 of the Capitals-Golden Knights 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

WHAT TV CHANNEL IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 1 between the Capitals and Golden Knights is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

5:00 p.m. — Caps Cup Preview
6:00 p.m. — Caps GameDay Live
6:30 p.m. — Caps Face Off
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 1 Capitals vs. Golden Knights
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1?

Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.

CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.