Washington Capitals: Eleven Reasons To Be Thankful

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Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Veterans

Remember about seven or eight seasons ago when the Washington Capitals kind-of-sort-of resembled what the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames look like now? A squadron of first round ‘Young Gun’ talents exciting fans with their combined individual efforts? While it was a fun era to be a Caps fan, we folded pretty miserably under the rigorous pressures of the postseason without the reinforcements that a locker room full of veterans has when patches turn rough. The young guns are wiser now. We’re more ready to win than ever.

If I had to compare us to another team this season, I’d probably pick the Detroit Red Wings. That’s probably blasphemous sacrilege to many of you, I know, but historically speaking, the Red Wings have won an awful lot of post-season hockey. Part of that is by having drafted Hall of Fame talent for many years in a row. I’d argue a bigger part of that, especially recently for the Wings, has been finding the right mixture of proven winning veterans and rookie players that can flat out play.

Alex Ovechkin is now 30. Nicklas Backstrom turned 28 on Monday. Justin Williams is 34 and has played for 14 seasons in the NHL. Jason Chimera and Brooks Laich each have over 700 games under their respective belts and it feels like if we began a losing skid this season, we’d find a way to snap out of it pretty quick. There are enough leaders in the locker room, including the ones mentioned and several others, that would lend their voice to the cause if needed.

That sort of attitude in a locker room is contagious. When there are more guys around you that have seen enough of the game to analyze it and react accordingly, panic is less pervasive. No offense to the teams under Bruce Boudreau in former years, but I feel like those guys probably freaked out more when faced with adversity. This group feels more solid. More confident in the system. Some of that is getting older, but a high percentage is from having a veteran’s mindset.

So thank you, Washington Capitals leaders. You’ve weathered a lot together. This season, I hope the consistency that you preach is fruitful enough to reward  you with a Stanley Cup. Even if it doesn’t, we’ve got a heck of a team this year with your help.

Next: The Prospects