After finally winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Washington Capitals haven’t been able to reach the summit again in the past few years despite still excellent production from superstar Alex Ovechkin. The team has not won a playoff series after lifting the Cup, falling in six games to the top-seeded Florida Panthers in the first round of this year’s playoffs. Ovechkin (50 goals) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (78 points) are joined by some new pieces on offense and a goaltending overhaul led by Stanley Cup-winning goalie Darcy Kuemper for the 2022-23 season.
After winning the Metropolitan Division for five-straight years from 2015-16 to 2019-20, the Capitals had to rely on a wild-card berth to get into the playoffs last year, coming in fourth place in the division standings behind Carolina, the New York Rangers, and Pittsburgh. As the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, they were matched up with the Panthers in the playoffs. Washington actually led the series 1-0 and 2-1 before losing the final three games to Florida, including Games 4 and 6 in overtime.
The series loss dropped the Caps to 0-4 in playoff series since their Stanley Cup victory.
|Year||Opponent (Seed)||Series Result|
|2019||Carolina (Wild Card)||L, 3-4|
|2020||New York Islanders (6)||L, 1-4|
|2021||Boston Bruins (3)||L, 1-4|
|2022||Florida (1)||L, 2-4|
The Capitals finished last season 11th in scoring with 3.29 goals per game and 12th in points (goals plus assists) with 706. It was 12th in the league with 2.95 goals allowed per game, but goaltending was a struggle—the Caps ranked 24th in save percentage at .902.
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Washington made bold moves to totally change the situation in front of the net. The centerpiece is Darcy Kuemper, fresh off a Stanley Cup victory with Colorado, where he ranked fourth in the NHL in wins and fifth in both save percentage and shutouts. Charlie Lindgren signed a three-year contract to move from being St. Louis’s backup goalie to taking the same position with Washington. They replace Ilya Samsonov (signed with Toronto) and Vitek Vanecek (traded to New Jersey for draft picks).
With Nicklas Backstrom possibly out for all of next year while recovering from a hip procedure, the team signed forwards Dylan Strome and Connor Brown to give head coach Peter Laviolette some extra depth to go along with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and T.J. Oshie (who only played 40 games last year due to injury).
Washington Capitals Predictions
When the team won the Stanley Cup, it was the culmination of years of solid goaltending by Braden Holtby. The Caps are hoping to recreate that with the signing of Kuemper, who already climbed the mountain.
Oddsmakers at Caesars Sportsbook are setting the Capitals’ over-under point total at 96.5. Last year, they got to 100 points and barely made the playoffs. The loss of Backstrom will be tough, but the team seemed to address its needs and improve the goaltending situation as well. What could hurt Washington, however, is that other opponents in the division have also improved. The Islanders had a down year but should be better, while Ottawa, Detroit, and Columbus all made improvements to their roster.
Where does it leave Washington? We believe enough improvements have been made to get a wild-card playoff spot again and go over the 96.5 point total, but the team has the veteran talent on both offense and at goaltender to win in the first round this year before losing to another complete team like the New York Rangers or Tampa Bay.
Washington opens the 82-game regular-season schedule at home against Boston on Wednesday, Oct. 12 and visits Toronto the next night. The first half of December marks a difficult stretch where the team plays six of its first seven games of the month on the road with five being in the Central or Pacific time zones. After that, 10 of the next 13 are at home.
The All-Star Game is at the home of the Florida Panthers on Feb. 4, and the regular season wraps up on Thursday, April 13 at home against New Jersey.
You can view the entire 2022-23 Capitals’ schedule here.
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You can buy Capitals season tickets or single-game tickets on the team website. Their shop link is tied into the group that owns the Capitals, Washington Wizards, and Washington Mystics and can be accessed here.
The majority of Capitals games are broadcast locally on NBC Sports Washington. Some games are available on national television on ABC, ESPN, and TNT while others are on streaming services ESPN+ and Hulu.
As explained here in greater detail, the state of Maryland does not yet have online sports betting in 2022. Currently, you can only bet on the Capitals in person at casinos, but Maryland is expected to have online sports betting ready by Jan. 1, 2023. That means you will be able to wager online from a device anywhere in the state of Maryland for over half of the Capitals’ NHL season plus any potential playoff games.
If you’re going to a Capitals game, there is good news: you can bet on Washington or any other sporting event at the 20,000-square-foot Caesars Sportsbook inside Capital One Arena — the Caps’ home arena. Washington, D.C.’s laws also allow you to place online sports, but only in certain locations.