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NHL: Washington Capitals Set To Begin Title Defence

Washington Capitals Victory Parade And Rally
Washington Capitals Victory Parade And Rally
Joe Gagnier
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 01 Oct 2018, 09:43 IST
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After hoisting their first Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals look to kick off their season on a positive note this Wednesday, versus the Boston Bruins.

General manager Brian MacLellan had a busy off-season, with John Carlson needing a new contract, and the team needing a new bench boss. MacLellan signed Carlson to a well-deserved 8-year, $64 million contract, per capfriendly.com, followed by promoting Todd Reirden to head coach, an assistant with Washington since 2014, providing the team with some familiarity.

Coach Reirden will take the ice on Wednesday with many players returning from last year’s team, something that is not always guaranteed after a Stanley Cup win. However, there are some notable departures. Defencemen Brooks Orpik was traded away with goaltender Philipp Grubauer. However, with the plethora of blueliners in the minors, such as Alexander Alexeyez and Lucas Johansen, the Capitals have players eager to fill Orpiks shoes. Grubauer, on the other hand, provided a needed change to the lineup when Holtby hit a season-low save percentage of .868% in March.

Grubauer's 35 starts gave Holtby some time off to compose himself, before taking over in the first round of the playoffs, returning to the goalie that won the Vezina in 2016. The Capitals will be hoping the Holtby can play that way more this season, with the untested Pheonix Copley now backing him up.

Looking at the returning players, Ovechkin has looked ready to roll with 4 goals in the preseason. If his start is anything like last years, with 4 goals against the Canadiens, we could see him on pace to score more than 40 goals again this season. Evgeni Kuznetsov had a career-high 27 goals. The ever-dangerous Russian should very well pass 30 goals this season. The team is also to see a bounce-back year from TJ Oshie, with his lowest goal total since the 2012-13 season. If everyone plays to their potential, this team is poised to score a lot of goals.

However, this year’s east division will be no cakewalk, with the Lightning and Penguins looking for revenge, the Maple Leaf’s with their addition of John Tavares, and underdogs such as Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils looking to talk down the champs.

However, the first crack at the champs belongs to Brad Marchand and the Bruins. If this game is any indication for how the season will go, it should be a memorable season.

Published 01 Oct 2018, 09:43 IST
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