NHL Power Rankings Week One: Capitals, Lightning, Predators, And Ducks Are Favorites

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Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

#3 – Washington Capitals

The Capitals are coming off an impressive season that saw them nearly beat the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs. The Caps improved their team during the offseason and enter the regular season as a popular Stanley Cup pick.

STRENGTHS: That first forward line is going to be nasty no matter who centers it. Nicklas Backstrom is out for at most 10 games. That’s fine because Evgeny Kuznetsov is fully capable of centering Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. The Caps also have Justin Williams, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, and Tom Wilson. All four of them should provide scoring depth.

John Carlson and Matt Niskanen lead an experienced blue line group that led the Capitals to the playoffs last season. Brooks Orpik and Karl Alzner take on tough minutes and help immensely on the penalty kill. Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov form a young but talented third pairing.

To top it all off, they have an elite goaltender in Braden Holtby and an excellent head coach in Barry Trotz.

WEAKNESSES: Their bottom six forwards could use some help. Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera must score more and be better defensively. There’s also the eternal issue of the playoffs. The addition of Williams should help immensely.

OUTLOOK: This is the best team that Barry Trotz has ever coached. It’s time for the Caps to put up or shut up.

Next: #2