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Why They Will Win

Why Capitals will win Stanley Cup

Ovechkin, Holtby lead Washington to championship season

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

The Washington Capitals have been in this position before as Presidents' Trophy winners and clear favorites in the Eastern Conference going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Six years ago, it didn't end well when The Capitals bowed out in the first round.

History will not repeat itself because these Capitals are different in so many ways than every team since Alex Ovechkin arrived in 2005. The biggest difference in 2016 will be the result.

The Capitals will win the Stanley Cup this season because more than a decade into the Ovechkin era, they finally have every piece in place to get the job done.

An inability to get past the second round with previous teams can be attributed to flaws in each of those editions.

The Capitals have no flaws this season.

Washington's core group checks off every box a championship team needs.. 

Grade-A goaltending?

Braden Holtby is a likely Vezina Trophy finalist, if not the winner. He's unflappable. He has Stanley Cup Playoff experience, making 34 playoff starts, winning 16 games, two by shutouts, and posting a 1.92 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

Video: PIT@WSH: Holtby denies Sheary on the doorstep

Elite playmakers down the middle? 

Centers Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov are, arguably, the most dynamic 1-2 pivot punch any team will have. The Pittsburgh Penguins could have a case if Evgeni Malkin were healthy.

Washington has enviable center depth. Marcus Johansson and Jay Beagle can toggle back and forth between center and wing, giving coach Barry Trotz the versatility he desires in a bottom-six forward group. Andre Burakovsky can also play center if necessary. Mike Richards is among the most experienced players in the tournament.

Scorers on the wing?

Check.

Ovechkin reached the 50-goal mark for the third straight season and the seventh time in his career. Offseason acquisitions T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams provided valuable secondary scoring this season, an attribute lacking in previous teams.

Washington had five players score 50 or more points this season, the most since seven did it in 2009-10, the last time they won the Presidents' Trophy.

Speed?

In addition to a quick top-six forward group, third-line right wing Jason Chimera can still motor. He puts pressure on the defense.

Video: WSH@STL: Chimera notches 20th goal of season

Good structure backed by strong defense?

The Capitals play a five-man game in all three zones. They check to get the puck back. Their defensemen are typically in position. John Carlson and Matt Niskanen are dangerous when they jump into the play. Brooks Orpik and Karl Alzner serve as safety valves.

The Capitals' consistent structure is why they are rarely chasing the game.

Cup-winning experience?

Part of the reason the Capitals got Williams is because he's a three-time Stanley Cup champion and the only player in NHL history to win seven Game 7s without a loss. The Capitals are 3-6 in Game 7 since 2008.

In addition, Richards won the Stanley Cup twice with Williams and the Los Angeles Kings (2012 and 2014). Orpik won the Cup with the Penguins (2009).

Six years ago, the Capitals went into the playoffs thinking they already were on top of the hockey world. They crashed hard.

This season, they'll finish on top of the hockey world because they're better equipped, more prepared, more experienced and, simply put, the best team in the NHL.

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