It’s playoffs or bust for the Capitals

Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports /

Ever since Alex Ovechkin began to take the Washington Capitals and the city by storm, playoffs have been normal thing. It wasn’t until the great eight’s third season when he had 65 goals when the Caps returned to playoffs. But since that 2008 trip when the core was just babies, they’ve missed the playoffs just twice.

The first time came in a failure of a 2013-14 season. The second time? Last season.

While that is still a nine year gap since the last time the Capitals missed the dance, it didn’t make it any less painful. But if there was any good thing that came out of last season’s failure it’s this: a long summer to prepare for the year ahead.

Everyone from Alex Ovechkin to Nicklas Backstrom to Tom Wilson and everyone else took advantage of that long summer. Now they are primed and ready to go at training camp and they know what’s at stake.

Backstrom said that missing the playoffs is “not acceptable”:

"“I think a lot of us are really excited to be back. We’re disappointed about last year. We also don’t want to miss playoffs. That’s not acceptable. I think I see a lot of fire in guys in the locker room and how we approach this season. I think it’s going to be an important year.”"

General manager Brian MacLellan added that missing the playoffs last year didn’t sit well with Ovechkin:

"“I don’t think it sits well with him that we missed the playoffs. He didn’t have fun down the stretch last year. He wants to win, he wants to compete, he wants to be at the highest level and he’s going to do what he can do to help us get there.”"

What will be different this year is a new bench boss who’s just as ready to get going as the rest of his players are. Spencer Carbery is the right man for the job. He has a tendency to get a lot out of his players and he even gets animated and involved as well

Ovechkin will also be an important part of the puzzle. With 72 goals away from tying Wayne Gretzky, he’ll already have the entire hockey world watching him. But one thing about Ovechkin that stands out is that he cares more about the wins and losses instead of the record.

With the way he plays and if he keeps it up, he will break that record no doubt. But breaking that record while the Caps go 0-82 or in more realistic terms the bottom of the standings won’t feel that good.

What I think needs to happen is the Caps need to make the playoffs this year and the rest will take care of itself. I’m not saying they’ll win the Cup. We’re a Caps blog, of course we want them to. But we all know what happens in the playoffs. Anything as a matter of fact can happen.

More often than not whoever gets the best bounces and breaks wins it. That’s just the nature of the game. You can be a powerhouse in the NHL like the Boston Bruins were in the regular season last year. But we know how it ended and it was a first round exit and not a Cup.

The Caps are not the Bruins. Nor are they gunning for a Presidents’ Trophy. Of course you want to win the Metropolitan Division but that’s easier said than done with how everyone else got better.

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But if they can get in the playoffs, indeed, anything can happen. That’s the goal entering the regular season, go for two points every night. If they make that big dance, the rest will take care of itself.