The Washington Capitals have all the tools to repeat as Stanley Cup champions and they put it all on display Saturday as they wiped away the sinking Ottawa Senators.
The victory was Washington’s fourth in a row, bringing them to a 24-10-3 record. Conversely, the Senators dropped four in a row. That’s another story for another time.
Madison Bowey and Tyler Lewington both scored their first NHL goals in the contest against Ottawa.
Both have stories notable enough in and of themselves, but they found everything coming together Saturday.
Take Bowey, for instance. With 77 games under his belt prior to Saturday’s Senators test, the Winnipeg native had been waiting for his first NHL goal. Selected in the second round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Capitals, Bowey scored on a slapshot from the top of the slot just a minute into the second period and gave the Capitals a 3-0 lead.
Or take Lewington, who had a Gordie Howe hat trick against the Senators and was playing just his second NHL game. The 24-year-old from Edmonton was also consecrated with a Sharpie-etched puck after scoring the 2-0 goal in the first period.
“Our room does a really good job of recognizing those situations,” head coach Todd Reirden said. “I know that they’re really excited for what’s happening. To me, it’s been the story of our first close to 40 games now. It’s been the development of young players and them stepping into opportunities and getting chances and coming through on them.”
Tom Wilson had the first goal of the game for Washington, with Lewington and Evgeny Kuznetsov notching assists.
But more than just generating another win, the Capitals proved something on Saturday. They proved their depth. Alex Ovechkin didn’t find the scoreboard and hasn’t done so in five straight games, but secondary scoring played its part and Washington is looking like a well-built hockey club. That stands in contrast to, you know, other teams right now.
Sure, it took the Capitals some time to get going in October. Call it a hangover. They were 7-6-3 after the opening month, but in came Ovechkin two pounds lighter and off Washington went. With 15 of the 20 dressed players on Saturday hoisting the Cup last spring and a new coach in Deerfield’s Reirden, it’s entirely conceivable that this version of the championship team is better than the last.
Is the writing already on the wall? Can Ovechkin and Co. plan another boozy bash to celebrate another Stanley Cup? Are we thinking dynasty, one led by the best goal-scorer in modern hockey and a deep roster that can roll through differences and get the job done?
The answers are not certain yet, but I am not even remotely comfortable betting against the Washington Capitals to repeat.