The Capitals 2009-10 season was filled with records and awards. They were able to win a third consecutive Southeast Division title and the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in their 35-year team history. They set new franchise records with wins (54) and points (121), and tied the record for home victories (30). Washington’s offense was the most prolific the NHL has seen since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 313 goals in the regular season – 45 more than second place Vancouver. Individual accolades were abundant as well, with several players setting personal bests in goals and assists while others saw improved play and increased ice time. Alex Ovechkin became the third player in NHL history to net 50 goals in four of his first five seasons. Mike Green led NHL defensemen in goals and assists. Nicklas Backstrom broke the 100-point barrier for the first time in his career.
All the accolades listed above are nice, but the team fell short of their ultimate goal of winning the leagues’ most coveted distinction – the Stanley Cup. DC was bested in the first round by the same team that ended their franchise best 14-game winning streak earlier in the year, the Montreal Canadiens. Where Caps’ fans everywhere are still bitterly aware of Jaroslav Halak’s defensive heroics and Michael Cammalleri’s offensive fireworks, the Penguins (and their fans) are becoming acquainted first-hand. As the Eastern Conference semifinal match-up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens currently sits tied at one game apiece, fans of the Washington Capitals may be forced to a gut-wrenching crossroads if the eighth-seeded Habs are able to upset the reigning Stanley Cup champions: Will you re-evaluate your stance on the Caps’ season if the Pens fall in the second round?
Would you maintain a “the end is nigh” feeling, with thoughts that the entire season was for naught since it didn’t result in a cup and a place in the history books? Or would you settle into an acceptance that we were bested by a team playing the best hockey of their season, and be happy with this seasons’ accomplisments and hopeful for the future, knowing some adjustments should be made?