Since the Washington Capitals first made the playoffs with Alex Ovechkin on their roster (2007-08), they’ve been the standard-bearer for regular-season success, holding the second-best point percentage in the NHL (behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won the Stanley Cup twice).
This season, the Capitals became the second team in NHL history to register 55 or more wins in consecutive seasons (after the Montreal Canadiens, 1975-76 to 1977-78). The Canadiens won the Stanley Cup all three of those years.
And yet …
The Ovechkin era has produced eight previous playoff appearances, and that has resulted in five series wins, two blown 3-1 series leads and zero appearances beyond the second round.
Presidents’ Trophy and 100-point seasons
This season’s Presidents’ Trophy is the third in Capitals history (also in 2009-10 and 2015-16), but the first two were followed by early exits from the playoffs (first round in 2010, second round in 2016).
The Capitals are the third team to win the award three times (Rangers and Red Wings) and, along with the Canucks, are one of two teams to win it multiple times without winning a Stanley Cup.
Entering this season, the Capitals had nine seasons with at least 100 points. In those seasons, Washington never made it past the second round.
Elias Sports Bureau research shows that’s the third-most 100-point seasons for a team not to reach the conference finals in NHL history.
Series leads and Game 7s
Entering this season, the Capitals franchise has had 26 playoff appearances. In 10 of those years, they’ve been eliminated after holding a two-game series lead. Elias research shows that is the most series losses after holding a two-game lead in NHL history.
And when the Capitals have led 3-1 it’s been a nightmare. They’ve held a 3-1 lead in 12 series, with five of them being pushed to seven games. Washington has lost all five Game 7s it has played after the Capitals took a 3-1 series lead.
Beginning with the 2007-08 season, Washington is 3-6 in Game 7s and has been outscored 13-23 in those games. No team has a worse goal differential (minus-10) in Game 7s in that span.
But Washington’s Game 7 woes predate the Ovechkin era.
In Stanley Cup playoff history, only the Coyotes (minus-17) have a worse goal differential in Game 7s than the Capitals (minus-16).
Ovechkin in the playoffs
Ovechkin is the leading goal scorer in the NHL since he was drafted (2004), but Elias research shows his 558 goals are the second-most among players to never have played in a conference finals or the Stanley Cup finals.
Elias notes that Ovechkin has the highest regular-season point percentage (.608) of any player with at least 900 career games to have never played in the conference finals or Stanley Cup finals.
D.C. sports drought
No Washington, D.C.-based team has won a championship since 1992. No D.C. team has made a conference final of any kind since 1998 (Capitals).