What looked like a steady pick going into the the playoffs, the Washington Capitals did what the Washington Capitals have done for the last three postseasons, lose in the first round. But what can the Caps smile about looking back at the 2020-2021 season?
Well a few things, starting with goaltending. With the departure of former goalkeeper staple Braden Holtby in the offseason, The Caps looked to two young goalies waiting in the wings. Enter, Illy Samsonov, the 22nd overall pick by the Capitals in 2015. The Russian was poised to be the starter entering the season and proved to be a difference maker in net, when he was actually able to play, that is. Samsonov unfortunately fell victim to the injury bug and the Covid-19 list multiple times this season while still posting a 19-4 record, including 2 shutouts, and ended the season with a .904 SV% and a GAA of 2.69. Nice season baring his setbacks.
On the other hand, the Caps also had goalie, Vitek Vanecek, a young tendy from the Czech Republic. He also proved his worth in times without Samsonov, posting a similar stat line. In 31 games, he kept a better SV% of .908 and also had a GAA of 2.69, while winning 21 games. Another nice season for a young tendy in a Caps uniform. Another bright spot, is captain Alexander Ovechkin. In 45 games, the 35 year old Russian Machine scored 42 points for the Caps. Granted he missed 11 games in a 56 game season, surprisingly this was his lowest season of production to date. This was also his lowest goal count, ending the season with 24. This stat column is something everyone has been keeping an eye on since he broke into the league in 05-06. Ovechkin is inching closer and closer to Wayne Gretzky’s All Time Goals Scored record. Ovechkin sits at 730 goals in 16 season, while The Great One stands atop that list with 894.
To me, I don’t think it’s a question if he will, I think it truly is a question of when. But will it be in a Capitals uniform? As good comes with bad, the bad is this season ends his contract he signed way back in 2008, as he is an upcoming UFA. Now, Ovechkin has stated multiple times he wants to stay with the Caps. That combined with how productive he has been for his time in Washington, I believe there will be a deal done. With him winning the Cup in 2018 with the franchise that drafted him, I see there is no reason for him to chase it somewhere else. The team still has a competitive roster that with a few tweaks can get back on the post-season winning ways. I don’t see a scenario where money can take him from the franchise he has done so much for and the Captain will remain in DC.
So let us bow our heads and say our goodbyes as we lay the 2020-2021 Washington Capitals to rest. Thank you for giving Zdeno Chára another run at a cup. Thank you for the unmasked Russian hotel parties. Thank you for another year of Coach Laviolette. And most of all, thank you for proving the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is a huge joke. Rest Easy, we will see you next season. R.I.P.
Written by @TheFrostBack