Throughout their 46-year history, the Washington Capitals have won only one Stanley Cup. In 2017-18, the side owned by Monumental Sports and Entertainment secured the championship trophy after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights. Since then, however, the Capitals have struggled in their pursuit of adding another Stanley Cup to their collection, losing in the first round in each of the last two campaigns. For a team with championship-winning aspirations, that isn’t good enough. So, let’s take a look at whether the Capitals can return to their title-winning ways in 2020-21.
The Addition of Lundqvist
In their efforts to improve this time around, the Washington Capitals have dipped into the free-agent market to sign Henrik Lundqvist. On paper, the addition is a smart one, although it may take NFL spectators some time to get accustomed to. Since 2005, the goaltender has frequently lined up against the Capitals for the New York Rangers, including in a Stanley Cup playoff match back in 2009. After being bought out of his contract upon entering the final year of his deal, the Rangers parted ways with the Swede, who later put pen to paper on a one-year deal with Brian MacLellan’s outfit.
At one stage in his professional career, Lundqvist was debatably the best goaltender in the NHL, and it’s clear to see why from his statistics. As per his profile at ESPN, the 38-year-old boasts a save percentage of .918. Moreover, of the 25,610 shots that the Swedish-born player has faced, he’s saved 23,509 of them, in addition to holding a shootout percentage success rate of 72.167 percent. Such proven experience will likely serve the Capitals well over the coming season and may even be the catalyst in them clinching their second Stanley Cup. As of November 12th, the Washington Capitals are currently +1700 in the NHL betting to be crowned outright winners come the end of the current campaign.
Will the Uncertainty Over Ovechkin’s Future Hinder Them?
There can be no doubts that Lundqvist’s arrival is nothing but a positive for the one-time Stanley Cup champions. However, there is an element of uncertainty regarding one of the Capitals’ all-time greats. This year, Alexander Ovechkin enters the final year of the 13-year-contract that he signed back in 2007, as per Bleacher Report. Widely regarded as being the league’s best-ever goal scorer, the Russian continues to close in on Wayne Gretzky’s record total of goals, which sits at 894.
Crucially, someone of Ovechkin’s experience and professionalism is unlikely to have his head turned by his upcoming career uncertainty. In turn, this lack of clarity shouldn’t have a significant impact on the Capitals’ pursuit of Stanley Cup glory. However, at some point during the campaign, both parties will need to work out what happens next in their relationship. With that in mind, it's believed that Ovechkin is open to considering all options, which includes a return to Dynamo Moscow in the KHL.
The Foundations to Enjoy a Fruitful Campaign
Upon considering the Capitals’ desire to win with their high-class roster, few would bet against them making a competitive run at this season’s Stanley Cup. Lundqvist could very well be the final piece of the jigsaw, as defensive solidity will be pivotal to the 46-year-old team’s prospects of adding a second championship title to their collection.