73 is the number of games it took this season for the Capitals to have all six remaining players from their 2018 Stanley Cup championship on the ice together. Those players are Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie. Washington’s key core.
The reason it took so long to have them all together? Injuries.
Carlson, Wilson, and Backstrom all played 40 games or fewer. Oshie played in just 58 games. Ovechkin was sidelined for consecutive games multiple times whether it was due to injury or the death of his father Mikhail.
In all it added up to the team missing the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons.
"“You can see when we’re missing Osh, when we’re missing Backy, Willie, Carly, me, I don’t think we played well long enough together to set up the standard [of] what we wanted to do.”"
Ovechkin is right. There was not enough time to redevelop chemistry and it cost them dearly. But the players still believe they can get the job done next year. Nicklas Backstrom added:
"“I think the core group here has been with each other for a long time and, obviously, we’re not happy about the situation. I think with this group we can regroup and start fresh next year and hopefully we can get together as a team and really start off the right way.”"