Once again, the Capitals were looking like one of the favorites to reach the Stanley Cup before the NHL season was suspended in March. John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin were in the midst of incredible seasons. Their scoring depth was astounding. These are the three keys they'll need to focus on if they want to win their second Stanley Cup in three years.
Goaltending is always an X-factor in the playoffs. Usually, the Capitals don't have to worry about it with Braden Holtby in net. However, this year, Holtby has been a bit underwhelming. He finished the regular season with a goals against average of 3.11 and a save percentage of .897%. If the Caps want to be at their best, Holtby will need to perform better in the playoffs. As we've seen in the past, he'll likely be up to the challenge.
2. Power Play Scoring
Despite having a stacked power play on paper, the Capitals man-advantage has been disappointing this season. They ranked 17th overall in power play percentage during the regular season, scoring on only 19.44% of their opportunities. The Caps simply have too much skill for this to continue. Between John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie, they should have one of the best units in the league. If the power play doesn't start to improve, we could see the Caps drop out of the playoffs early.
1. Lockdown Defending
The Capitals were able to hide their poor defense this season with outstanding offensive production. They gave up the 15th most goals in the entire league during the regular season. They'll need players like Radko Gudas and Jonas Siegenthaler to step up and become lockdown defenders in the postseason. While their penalty kill was solid, they have a lot of work to do while 5-on-5, which means the forwards will need to contribute more defensively as well.