The Washington Capitals were the brunt of all jokes in the NHL world due to their inability to advance past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. A team with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Nicholas Backstrom always faltered, regardless of circumstance. But that changed in 2018, as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 2 and the Vegas Golden Knights in the finals to win their first-ever Stanley Cup.
Even though Ovechkin took home the Conn Smythe Award, these three players on the Caps should be given more credit for securing the Stanley Cup.
3. Brett Connolly
If an NHL team wants to win the Stanley Cup, they need to have some quality depth that can dish out assists and put pucks in the back of the net. The perfect embodiment of that is Brett Connolly. The depth winger scored two goals in Washington's sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals and against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals. Connolly averaged over 11 minutes of ice time in the playoffs, and he made the absolute most of it.
2. Devante Smith-Pelly
You didn't have to be a Capitals fan to feel utter joy when watching Devante Smith-Pelly hoist the Stanley Cup in 2018. In February of that year, Smith-Pelly was subject to a slew of racist chants by four Chicago Blackhawks fans during a road game at the United Center. Fast forward to the spring/summer, and Smith-Pelly was arguably Washington's most clutch player. The winger scored seven goals in the playoffs, including the winner in Game 4 against Vegas to give the Capitals a commanding 3-1 series lead and then the game-tying goal in Game 5, which helped Washington slam the door on the Knights.
1. Lars Eller
Center Lars Eller has always showed up once the playoffs commence, and that was no different in 2018. Before the start of the postseason, the Capitals locked him in to a five-year contract extension, and that turned out to be the correct move. During the team's championship run, Eller scored seven goals and dished out 11 assists through 24 games. In fact, those 18 points were nearly half of his regular season point total (38). Perhaps his best performance came in Game 2 of the Finals, in which he posted a goal and two assists to help Washington win 3-2. Oh, and he delivered the final nail in the Golden Knight's coffin by scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 5. Eller should by no means be glossed over in the history books.