Barry Trotz had to go back to the drawing board this offseason after failing to get past the second round of the playoffs for the second straight year. The Capitals were by far the best team in the 2015-16 regular season but were extremely unfortunate to run into a Penguins team that found its game later in the season and stayed hot until they hoisted the Stanley Cup after six games in the final. This is the problem with seven-game series: it’s incredibly tough to win one, let alone four in a row.
Washington is still an incredibly talented, well-coached team that has a star goalie and the best goal scorer in the league. The Caps have some heavy expectations weighing on them heading into the new season and if they falter in the playoffs again, there could be some serious changes on the horizon.
Stanley Cup +1000
The Caps are entering their 43rd season this year, making it 42 straight years they have not won a Stanley Cup. So, what are the chances they can break that trend and earn their first league title this year? Well, just one team since the 2005-06 lockout, the 2007-08 Red Wings, has been able to win the Cup the year after winning the Presidents' Trophy. Washington is getting decent odds right now because of the outrageous line on the Blackhawks, and it makes sense for them to be tied with the Penguins. They have to win a Cup at some point, right?
Eastern Conference +500
The track record is a little bit better for conference championships but not by a lot – Washington has won just one Eastern Conference championship and qualified for the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs just once in its history. The Caps have not made it past the second round of the playoffs since 1997-98 when they won their first and only Prince of Wales Trophy against the Buffalo Sabres en route to their only Finals appearance, where they were swept by the Red Wings.
Metropolitan Division +195
The race for the Metropolitan division is expected to be between just two horses as the Penguins slightly edge the Caps in division odds at +180 on Sportsbook. Pittsburgh is likely going to be a tough train to stop if they’ve retained any of the vicious momentum that carried them through the late stages of the 2015-16 season.
The Caps have won nine division championships in their history, including four in a row from 2007 to 2010. Since 2005-06, 27.5 percent of teams that have lost out in the playoffs in the second round have gone on to win their division the following year. That’s not a great trend for the value being offered but like I said, this race is basically a toss-up between the Caps and Pens – choose your dog and stick to your guns.
Season Points OVER/UNDER 106.5
Since the NHL adopted the shootout, teams that have led the league in points have gone on to score an average of 106.5 points the next season – hmmm, sounds familiar. Sportsbook really nailed this line so it’s tough to find much value here. My only advice is that I can’t see the Caps being any worse this year than they were the last. Goaltender Braden Holtby is in his prime right now and forwards like Evgeny Kuznetzov have made major leaps forward. The bottom teams in their division will be more competitive this year so they may lose some of the easy points they earned last season. I think they go OVER but not by much – I’ll say 109.
The Caps have the highest projected point total on most betting sites and if they do wind up winning back-to-back Presidents' Trophies, watch out. Just eight winners since the inception of the award in 1985 have gone on to win the Cup – that’s just 25 per cent of Presidents' Trophy winners.
Odds as of October 3 at Sportsbook