The Washington Capitals have made the playoffs over the last eight seasons. Considering that they’ve entered the postseason in 14 of the last 15 years is more impressive.
However, the Capitals haven’t had the best start to 2022-23 and will need to improve their play if they intend to continue that trend.
While Washington haven't been terrible this year, and indeed have put in some good performances out on the ice, they haven’t been able to find the consistency that has seen them through to the playoffs in previous years. Their form means that it might be possible to find them at good value when it comes to NHL betting, but they could equally lead to fans being frustrated at the outcome of games.
Three-time Hart Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin remains their top skater, and is worth looking out for in player specific wagers as he’s picking up points for both goals and assists, and is probably the one to pick when it comes to outright goal scoring.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dylan Strome are instrumental when the Capitals go forward, finding vital assists, while Conor Sheary is also one to watch for goals.
The Capitals won 44 games last season but lost to the Florida Panthers in the first round of the playoffs. The year before, they won 36 of 56 games but were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in round one.
Their Stanley Cup victory in 2017-18 over the Vegas Golden Knights is amid their playoff streak. Before that breakthrough, they’d been to one Stanley Cup final but were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98.
The Capitals franchise was established in 1974 but did not make the playoffs until the 1982-83 season. However, that result started a playoff streak until the 1995-96 season. They are in another postseason streak that began in 2014-15. Aside from one Stanley Cup, the Capitals have two conference championships, three Presidents’ Trophies, and 13 division titles. The Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League and the South Carolina Stingrays of ECHL are their minor league affiliates.
The Capitals play their home games at Capital One Arena, formerly MCI Center and Verizon Center. It was opened in 1997 and can accommodate up to 18,573 hockey spectators.
There has been much criticism about its ice quality, but the team has addressed it over the years. However, the criticism could also be a ploy because the Capitals have been difficult to beat. Add in their energetic crowd that cheers them on during home games, and the Capitals enjoy a tremendous advantage at home.
The Capitals’ success throughout history has given them several rivals, with most also playing in the Metropolitan Division. They have rivalries with New York teams, the Rangers and the Islanders.
Washington leads the all-time series against the New York Rangers, 141-124-18-8, and their postseason faceoffs, 28-27. Their last playoff meeting came in 2015, with the Rangers winning in seven games. The Rangers have also won their previous two matches.
Meanwhile, the Capitals also lead their all-time series against the New York Islanders, 136-121-13-6. However, the Islanders have the edge in their postseason results, 25-17. Washington has defeated the Islanders in only two of their eight playoff series. While this rivalry peaked in the 1980s, it took a different turn when former Capitals head coach Barry Trotz joined the Islanders after winning the Stanley Cup with Washington.
The Capitals also have rivalries with the two Pennsylvania teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia leads their all-time series, 135-102-19-11, but Washington has a 16-14 edge in the playoffs. They have split the six playoff series they’ve played against each other. However, the Capitals have won their last three meetings.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have the advantage in their all-time series with the Capitals, 160-127-16-6. The Penguins also have a 40-28 edge in the playoffs. The Capitals have won just two playoff series against the Penguins but clinched their latest postseason encounter in 2018.