The 23-24 hockey season is just around the corner and The Capitals gave District Fray a look at what to expect from the new faces joining the team.
The Zambonis are warming up, skates are being sharpened and sticks are being taped. All of this can only mean one thing — Capitals hockey is officially back for the season.
Despite the 2022-2023 season not ending the way the team and fans hoped for, summer was filled with moves from the front office that brought in fresh faces to the DMV. Both fans and the team alike are looking forward instead of back for the new season, believing in the new players and coaching staff. Not only that, many fans have high hopes for Alexander Ovechkin passing Wayne Gretzky’s all-time scoring record this season.
Coach Carbery made headlines for the Caps, joining the team over the summer. Carbery spent the last two years in Toronto as an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs before signing on as head coach for the Capitals. He might be new to some of the fans, but some other players might recognize him from his pre-NHL days. Carbery spent a few years in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Hershey Bears, the Capitals AHL affiliate.
“I think it’s been a breath of fresh air,” Dylan Strome says. “A lot of guys have been playing with [Peter Laviolette] for a bunch of years now, so to get a new voice in is always good.”
A new coach isn’t the only new face behind the Capitals bench this year. Joel Edmundson and Max Pacioretty were off-season acquisitions who have yet to see the ice for the Caps. This season will be Edmundson’s ninth in the league while this will be Pacioretty’s sixteenth season. There are already a handful of veteran players on the team, but a couple more can’t help.
Pacioretty hasn’t been on the ice yet — seemingly stuck on long-term injury reserve since his time with the Carolina Hurricanes last season — but, his presence and knowledge of the game shines through. Veteran players like Pacioretty help younger players in the locker room even if they’ve been around for a handful of years.
“It’s nice to get to know him so far,” Strome says. “Obviously, he hasn’t been on the ice yet here, but he’s a great guy to have in the locker room. He’s been around for a long time.”
The Capitals preseason might not have looked the way they wanted it, with three wins and three losses, but it’s something that the team is working on. Coach Carbery spoke about being specific with the team since he’s still new to the Capitals.
“It’s on me as a coach to be very, very clear and give them ample preparation,” Carbery says. “Sometimes that gets a little jacked up, for sure. But it’s definitely more on me. Guys will get a feel for my bench and they’ll know, okay, even if I just came off the ice and I’m slated to go 1, 2, 3, I’m moving my way down the bench and so forth, you might be pulled back.”
Strome echoed the sentiment.
“[Carberry] is very detailed in what wants to see from us and I think that’s always a good thing to have. I think he demands a lot from his players, which is also a good thing,” Strome said. “For myself, I think he enjoys the way I play the game so I’m just trying to keep playing the way I play.”
Of course, the biggest question of the year revolves around Alexander Ovechkin and whether or not he will pass Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. As of right now, he has 767 goals which is only 73 away from Gretzky’s record. If I had to choose, my bet is on Ovechkin surpassing the record right before the season ends. 73 goals is still a decent enough gap that I don’t think he could close early in the season.
The Washington Capitals preseason record might be split down the middle, but that doesn’t mean the season will go the same way. With a couple of fresh faces, a new coach, and a possible all-time record in the near future, I think the Capitals will pull it together to make it into the playoffs this year.
The Capitals season starts this Friday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. against the Pittsburgh Penguins for their home opener at Capital One Arena. Visit here to get tickets and see their full schedule.
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