The St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals have one thing in particular in common. Both have been repeat offenders when it comes to playoff disappointments.
For whatever reason, the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals have been locked in a battle to see who can disappoint their fans the most. Each section of supporters will likely lay claim to that title, but the bottom line is both teams have had their share of disappointing springs.
Each team has had their chances. Recent past is covered with Presidents Trophies and spectacular regular seasons.
When it comes to the second season, though, the Blues and Capitals just can’t seem to find that same magic. It hasn’t mattered if it’s Brett Hull or Vladimir Tarasenko, Dale Hunter or Alex Ovechkin. The results all come out the same – going home too early.
Perhaps this season will be different for both. A Blues vs. Capitals matchup would be very intriguing, not the least of which is because T.J. Oshie is now a member of the Caps.
A Washington/St. Louis finals would also be interesting for another reason. Barry Trotz spent years trying to beat the Blues as the coach of the Nashville Predators.
Time will tell on that. One thing we do know is both teams at least plan on getting there.
The Blues and Capitals always have designs on making it to the pinnacle of the league. Whether we agree with their moves each summer, the goal is always team improvement and to win a championship.
The Capitals have been very consistent. They’ve made the playoffs 13 of the last 20 years. Unfortunately, similar to the Blues, they usually come up short when the stakes are highest.
The Capitals went a little cheap this offseason. Not because they wanted to, but because they had to.
Washington needed cap flexibility to sign some of their own players. They did just that in extending Marcus Johansson to a three year deal.
The Capitals picked up Eller from the Montreal Canadiens for a pair of second round picks. Eller is a bit overpaid at $3.5 million, but he’s a consistent scorer and will provide just the sort of production the Caps need from a third-line center.
Connolly can either play on the third or fourth line, but isn’t likely to give much offense. He’s only scored double-digit goals once in his career and his game is more physical. Washinton got him on the roster for under $1 million though, so he’s an inexpensive fit who ranks low on the risk category.
It’s hard to judge what the Capitals have lost since it was hard to judge the player while he was there. Jason Chimera lived up to his namesake by being a hybrid player, but not always in a good sense.
He scored as many as 20 goals with 40 points and as few as three with 14 points. You never quite knew what you were going to get out of him from year to year.
His time on the ice varied year to year almost as much as his production. Much of that was tied to his numbers, though you could argue the reverse is true.
Even if you are only a middle of the road player, consistency is key in the NHL. Teams like to know what you will provide season to season.
Chimera just didn’t fit that bill. Washington will miss him very much if he produces numbers similar to last season. If he reverts to his form of 2014-15, not so much.
Washington absolutely ran away with the regular season in 2015-16. They only lost a total of 18 games all season and were only six wins shy of tying the NHL record.
There is little reason to think they won’t have success in 2016-17. It won’t be on par with last year’s regular season, but if they can avoid an early playoff disappointment, perhaps it is best.
There is bound to be some regression to the mean. The last time the Capitals had the best record in the league, they had a six win drop the next season. Something around that same number seems reasonable this year.
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That may be for the best. Just ask the Golden State Warriors how chasing records and regular season wins turned out for them.
Washington and its snake-bitten fans want a title. They would settle for finishing in the final playoff spot if if meant lifting the Stanley Cup, the same as Blues fans.
The Capitals seem built for success. Braden Holtby has emerged as one of the league’s best goaltenders.
They have great scoring and a good corps of defenders. They just have to find a way to string it all together. That’s the toughest part.
Fans of Oshie will have plenty of opportunities to see the Caps this year. In addition to their regular season games, the Blues play the Capitals twice in the preseason as well.
The Blues play in Washington on October 3 in preseason action. They then will play in Kansas City on October 5 against the Capitals.
St. Louis holds the edge in the series, but not by much. 41-40-12 is the slim margin between these two teams.
The Blues split their two games with Washington last season. The Capitals won in St. Louis 5-1, in a rather embarrassing performance near the end of the season. Perhaps it was fair play since the Blues won 4-0 in the capital.
It won’t be too terribly long for the Blues to seek regular season revenge. They play in Washington on Wednesday, November 23, looking to have their fill of hockey the day before they get their fill of turkey. The Capitals will come to St. Louis on Thursday, January 19.
The Blues will be facing the Capitals much earlier in the season than last year. It will still be a good test, especially for Jake Allen, who no longer has the comfort of Brian Elliott behind him, but did pitch a shutout last season against the Caps.
Both teams are striving for something extra this year. Whether they get it depends on the players, but both are typically very fun to watch.