Photo: Patrick Smith
Every year, Nicklas Backstrom’s facial hair gets a little less terrible and Alex Ovechkin’s hair gets a little more gray. Both players are still at the top of their game — for now. But by the time next season rolls around, Ovechkin will be 31. Backstrom will turn 29 soon after. Each player is getting near the latter half of their career.
“It absolutely crosses your mind,” Backstrom said when asked about him and Ovechkin running out of time to win a Stanley Cup. “We need to get over the hump we can’t get over.”
As for Ovechkin’s thoughts on matter: “It’s life. You have to live with it.”
The Capitals captain, however, did note that it becomes harder for him to keep in shape every year, despite his third straight 50-goal season.
With the best team in franchise history, this was Washington’s prime chance at a Cup in the Ovechkin era. They won the Presidents’ Trophy by a remarkable 11 points. Still, the Caps lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the eighth time in nine postseason meetings. The Capitals haven’t made it past the second round since 1998.
“I feel like we had something special and we just need to execute,” Backstrom said Thursday on Washington’s breakdown day. “We need to win games when we need to.”
With a shallow free agent pool and few players to re-sign in the offseason, the 2016-17 Capitals will look very similar to this year’s team. Earlier this year, Washington’s general manager Brian MacLellan spoke of a two-year window to win the Stanley Cup. With this season down the drain, that leaves leaves Ovechkin and Backstrom with perhaps one final shot to win a Cup as key players.
Backstrom says it will be done. When asked if he had a message to Caps fans who have endured countless playoff defeats, Backstrom insisted a Stanley Cup was coming for Washington. Then he took his prediction to #thebank.
“I love Washington fans,” Backstrom said sternly. “They’re absolutely the best fans in the world. Even if we disappoint them, hopefully they have faith in us. We’re gonna do it. We’re gonna do it one day. I promise them.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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