ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) – In pro sports, it’s hard to find a team that’s won more consistently, and kept its core together, longer than the Washington Capitals.
The successful squad, entering year two under head coach Peter Laviolette, has been reunited as the Capitals preseason training camp is underway at MedStar Capitals Iceplex.
“It’s help for sure, ” Capitals defenseman Dimitry Orlov, who has been on the team since 2011, said during the team’s media day on Thursday. “We’re like a family you know, because we’ve been so many years together.”
Forward Alex Ovechkin is entering his 17th season with the Caps. Ovechkin, currently the sixth all-time leading goal scorer (730 goals) in NHL history, signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract extension with the Caps during the offseason. Keeping him under contract until he’s 40-years-old.
“It’s important for this organization you know, if you see all those teams who won the cup,” Ovechkin said. “They had those core group of guys, who’ve been like five, six, seven years together.”
Forward Nicklas Backstrom returns for his 15th season as a Capital, though he’ll miss the start of camp with a hip injury. This year’s Capitals roster includes six other players that have been on the roster for at least five years: defenseman John Carlson (since 2009), Orlov (2011), and forwards Tom Wilson (2012), Evgeny Kuznetsov (2013), TJ Oshie (2015) and Lars Eller (2016).
“I certainly still believe in all of us, in the core that’s here,” Eller said. “And that has been here and that has won. I think we have all the assets on the team to do that, to make a run.”
Since 2007, the Capitals have missed the playoffs just once, but have one Stanley Cup title to show.
“If we use that experience and we remember and we hold ourselves accountable to getting to that level,” Oshie said. “I’d put us up against anyone in the league.”
Since the Stanley Cup title in 2018, the Capitals have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs each of the past three seasons.
“When you lose the game in the playoff or game seven, you sit in the locker room and you feel that pain right? Next year you go, you don’t want to feel that pain again,” Kuznetsov said. “So you can use that as a motivation. You can use that as a target right, as a goal, like don’t feel that again.”
The Capitals will begin their quest for the Stanley Cup on October 13, hosting the New York Rangers.
“You know we weren’t necessarily happy with where we ended up last year,” Wilson said. “I mean this is a hungry group. These are competitive guys in this group and that’s how we’ve built this culture. So we don’t get there and lose in the first round. We want to make the playoffs and we want to push and try and get back to where we want to be.”