Take a look at the teams in next week’s NHL playoffs and find the favorite. It’s pretty easy; in fact, we’ll do it for you.
There’s the New York Rangers, then the Pittsburgh Penguins and out west the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues are certainly deserving of the title.
Now scroll your eyes closer to the bottom and find the dark horse.
If you’ve passed over the Washington Capitals, then maybe you might want to reconsider. It’s entirely possible that the seventh seeded Caps could be one be poised for a better-than-expected postseason and here are a few reasons why.
For starters this is the first time since the Capitals barely qualified for the playoffs five years ago that expectations are low.
Nobody is picking the Caps as a Stanley Cup favorite and for a team that’s crumbled under expectations, that’s a good thing. After a tumultuous season, getting to the playoffs is a consolation enough and everything after is a bonus.
The Caps also have nothing to prove to anyone this year. It’s all on the Rangers, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers and Penguins to live up to their top seeding.
For the past four years the Caps have been favorites and fallen on their faces trying to show they deserve that sort of hype – not this time.
Washington’s also a different team than most of the playoff teams have seen, because they’re a healthy team (disregarding goaltending…of course).
With Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green back in the regular line-up, the Young Guns are reunited and at a time where Alex Ovechkin is playing like the Ovi of old. Backstrom is showing steady progress in his return to NHL action and though Green hasn’t scored a goal in his return, his chances are steadily improving.
The only question mark swirls around the team’s net minders, but where have we heard this before?
A team comes into the playoffs with questionable goaltending and emerges a round one winner with the goalie performance of a lifetime.
Oh right, it happened to the Capitals against Montreal! So why can’t it happen for the Capitals, not against them?
The regular season was a roller coaster ride that many might want to forget, but ‘tis the season to believe.
It’s no longer the Caps’ time to prove they’re the best – that’s the Boston Bruins problem now. It’s the Caps’ time to show nobody should have counted them out to begin with.