by Brianna Ford
The Capitals are coming off a season where they missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season. This season, their chances of making the playoffs remain questionable. Even their head coach Berry Trotz has expressed doubts, which he openly explains in a few interviews.
After coaching for the Nashville Predators from 1997-2014, Trotz joined the Washington Capitals as their new head coach on May 26, 2014. Trotz was the longest-tenured coach in the NHL and is ranked third in games coached (1,196) and wins (557) with a single franchise. Trotz comments, “We still have some work to do. That’s why it’s imperative that we develop the players we have, the young guys, because there’s not a lot out there in terms of that elite stuff.”
During December and January, the Capitals had a hopeful stretch, winning 17/26 games. However, their losing streak preceding that was not so impressive. They are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference, and third in the metropolitan division. Sunday Feb. 8, the Capitals lost 3-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers. Not only did they play terribly, they only had 14 shots on goal, the lowest count since 2011. Senior Andrew Stone says, “They’re a little bit shaky right now but they’re just getting over a recent losing streak. I think they’re on the rise for the end of the season and end of the playoffs.”
Braden Holtby, goalie for the Caps, has had a few tremendous games, and has definitely made countless game-changing stops. Averaging 2.27 goals allowed per game, Holtby has proven that he can be a huge contributor. Holtby is a completely different player this year compared to last; he’s more relaxed and controlled. Caps goalie coach Mitch Korn comments on his transformation, “When I first met him and we started, he was extremely intense and focused. Now I can actually have a conversation with him, I see him smile.”
Nicklas Backstrom, center forward and Assistant Captain leads the Capitals with 64 points, and is fourth in the NHL for most points. A Washington Post article discussed the players and coaches shock at the NHL’s decision not to select Backstrom for the All Star Game on January 25, 2015. “Definitely surprising,” said teammate and forward Eric Fehr. “I think Backstrom is as deserving as anybody in the league.” Backstrom has not been chosen the past five chances, and humbly commented that it does not bother him because he enjoys the break.
Captain Alexander Ovechkin’s impressive statistics show that his hard work and dedication has paid off. He is currently tied for most goals in the NHL with 38 goals. Along with that, Ovechkin was the only Capitals player selected for the All Star Game. Although “The Great Eight” lives up to his superstar expectations, many worry that he is taking too much attention and credit away from other players. While one player shines, the others try not to get blinded by their light. History teacher Jason Vanderburgh comments, “Sometimes the negative of having a superstar player is it takes some of the attention away from the other players that deserve recognition.”