Regardless of whether you think an NHL season is a sprint or a marathon, at some point a race is involved. Sadly, the Washington Capitals couldn’t even get lined up without tripping over the starting block and have now spent the first quarter of the season getting lapped by the competition.
Injuries to key players — pretty much everyone not named left wing Alex Ovechkin and/or center Evgeny Kuzetsov — have decimated the Caps, creating a constant shuffling of lines and a complete lack of stability throughout the roster. Unless/until center Nicklas Backstrom, forward Tom Wilson and countless others are able to return to action and produce, it’s difficult to envision this year’s squad flipping some magical switch and going on an extended run.
Those remaining hopeful that better days are on the horizon can take solace in the fact that forward T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup and paid immediate dividends after being sidelined for 11 games due to a lower-body injury. Oshie scored a first-period tally, just his third goal of the season, and added an assist to propel Washington to a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames. Ovechkin and Kuznetsov rounded out the scoring and goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped all 32 shots he faced to earn his second shutout of the season, as the Caps improved to 9-10-3.
The victory was also noteworthy because it represented the team’s first win in their Reverse Retro jerseys. During a season in which the franchise is celebrating 25 years at Capital One Arena it’s fitting that the Caps are turning back the clock with sweaters inspired by the color scheme of the 90s era team of Olaf Kolzig, Peter Bondra and friends.