With the stench of consecutive second-round defeats to the Pittsburgh Penguins still fresh, a depleted version of the Washington Capitals reconvened for the start of the 2017-18 season. Six regulars were gone from the previous year’s 55-win team. A cast of unproven rookies and veterans making the league minimum were brought in to fill the void. Few could have predicted what was ultimately in store for Alex Ovechkin & Co. eight months later.
On that first day of training camp a year ago, a visibly irritated Ovechkin practically pleaded with reporters. “We not going to be suck this year,” he insisted after a series of questions hinted otherwise. “We’re going to be fine.”
Of course, the Capitals were more than fine. And when the Stanley Cup champions returned this fall, Ovechkin fielded...
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