After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2014 last season, the Washington Capitals are poised to return this season. With training camp opening up this week, some Capitals players dished out their expectations for the team.
Forward Nicklas Backstrom, the Captials' all-time leader in assists, says there is a buzz around the team and knows a playoff berth is crucial this season.
“I think a lot of us are really excited to be back,” Backstrom said, via Tom Gulitti. “We’re disappointed about last year. We also don’t want to miss playoffs. That’s not acceptable. I think I see a lot of fire in guys in the locker room and how we approach this season. I think it’s going to be an important year.”
Backstrom struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, recording 52 points in 86 games for the Capitals. He says he feels good though and has put his injury history in the rearview.
The Capitals are in a daunting Metropolitan division that produced four playoff teams last season. That doesn’t include the improved Pittsburgh Penguins, who traded for Erik Karlsson this offseason in hopes of another Stanley Cup run.
Despite missing the playoffs last season and their best player being 38-year-old Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals still feel like they have a shot at being a championship contender. A healthy Nicklas Backstrom will certainly help their case.
Washington hasn’t won a playoff series since the franchise's first Stanley Cup title in 2018. Capitals players hope to right the ship this season and erase that statement.