Washington Capitals 2017-2018 season in review
The 2017–18 Washington Capitals season was the 44th season for the Caps in the NHL. The Capitals franchise was established on June 11, 1974. They played their home games at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. The Caps were led by head coach Barry Trotz. Trotz entered this season, his fourth season as coach of the Capitals, with one goal in mind, winning the Stanley Cup. The Capitals did just that by winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural-season in the Stanley Cup Final. But how did the Caps get there?
The Caps season didn’t start very well. The Caps went into training camp and would have a 2-5 record in the preseason schedule. After the preseason the Capitals October schedule didn’t look exciting either. Washington would start the season 5-6-1, with a 1-3 home record. The Caps would figure it out the rest of the way however. Washington wouldn’t have a loses record in any month going forward.
The Capitals would use 29 skaters through out the 2017-2018 season. Guys like Peluso, O’Brien, Bowey, Boyd, Walker, Ness and Graovac would play parts of the season with the Caps, however would end the season with the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League. Others like Chandler Stephenson would start the season with the Bears, but would get an early recall, and stay in Washington for the remainder of the season. Stephenson would not just stay with the Caps but would produce and be a big part on the penalty kill and much more for the Caps.
The Capitals would be led in goals by team captain Alex Oveckin, assists by Evgeny Kuznetsov, plus/minue by Matt Niskanen, and penalty minutes by Tom Wilson with a stout 187 minutes. The season wouldn’t go without controversy at the goaltending position as Braden Holtby and Phillip Grubauer nearly split the season in half with regard to starts. When you look at numbers yes Holtby played in 50 games while Grubauer would play in 31. But for a long stretch this season Grubauer would be named the started and make seven consecutive starts. Holtby would end the season with a 3.03 Goals against average and Phillip would end with a 2.29 GAA. Holtby would end the regular season campaign with zero shut outs and Grubauer would grab three shut outs. When it mattered most in the playoffs, the man known as Holtbeast would grab back to back shut outs in games six and seven to eliminate the Lightning and move on to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Caps finished the regular season with 105 points, and winning the Metro division for the third year in a row. In the playoffs the Caps started slow as they lost the first two games of their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets before winning the next four games to advance to the Conference Semifinals against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, who ended the Caps playoffs each of the previous two years. The Capitals would defeat the Penguins this season however in six games to advance the Eastern Conference Finals. The Conference Final this season would be their first trip to a conference championship series since 1998. The Caps would be pushed to the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals when they trailed the Lightning 3-2 after leading the series 2-0. The Capitals would push the series to a decisive Game 7 on the road in Tampa and would earn their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1998, when they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. The Capitals faced the first-year Vegas Golden Knights and defeated the Golden Knights in five games. The Caps lost game one 6-4, but would rattle off four straight victories to earn the organization’s first ever Stanley Cup.