As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention — either mathematically or by losing in the postseason — we’ll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2017-18, along with three keys to its offseason and a way-too-early prediction for what 2018-19 will hold.
What went wrong
They had the better record (113 points to 105). They had a deeper, more veteran roster. They had rolled through two rounds of the playoffs, playing five games in each series. They had home-ice advantage, which actually meant something before the 2018 postseason started.
So what happened?
Simply put, the Capitals rose to the occasion: They played better in the seven-game series, had their star players perform when they needed them, and the Lightning were unable to exert their will on a Washington team that, in the end, was seemingly destined to play for the Stanley Cup for the first time in Alex Ovechkin‘s career.