The All-Time Capitals Team Tournament, Part V

Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Which Washington Capitals team was the best the organization has ever put on the ice? We're into Round 2 of our tournament to answer that very question.

Round 1 is over (you can check the eight match-ups here, here, here and here), and so it's on to Round 2...

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S
Season GP ROW ROL T/SO Adj Pts Pts%
GF GF Rk
GA
GA Rk
1 1985-86 80 50 23
7
107 .669
315 10/21
272
2/21
8 2007-08 61* 33 20
8
74 .607
195 1/30
167
18/30

The tourney's top seed easily dispatched of the 1995-96 squad, taking 82% of the vote (or, in "best-of-seven" terms, winning the series in five games), and it's not hard to see why, what with a trio of future Hall-of-Famers on the blueline in Rod Langway, Scott Stevens and Larry Murphy and a quartet of 30-goal scorers Dave Christian (41), Mike Gartner (35), Alan Haworth (34) and Craig Laughlin (30) up front (as well as Bengt Gustafsson, Bobby Gould, Gaetan Duchesne, among others). The team won 50 games, but finished second in the Patrick Division to the Flyers. As we noted in Round 1:

Fortune broke their way, however, as the Flyers were upset by the Rangers in the first round, setting the Caps up for a second-round date with the Blueshirts after they'd swept the Isles. In fact, the Caps entered Round 2 with 20-plus regular season points on every team remaining in the Wales Conference, and 29 on the Blueshirts. Washington would drop Game 1 in overtime, then rebound with convincing 8-1 and 6-3 wins... before dropping three straight and hitting the links, which was particularly unfortunate given that the Caps had at least 18 regular season points on each team that ended up in the Campbell Conference Finals as well. The 1985-86 team was not only among the Caps' best, but that spring also likely represented the franchise's clearest path to a championship. Alas...

The team they'll face is the one that Bruce Boudreau took over 21 games into the 2007-08 season upon Glen Hanlon's dismissal. It featured a Hart-Lindsay-Ross winning Alex Ovechkin, rising stars Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green, an 11-2-0/1.63/.936 stretch run by Cristobal Huet in net, and exciting-as-hell hockey before flaming out in the first round of the playoffs, despite a valiant comeback to force a Game 7 after being down three-games-to-one (in this tourney, however, they were able to get by the 2013 team in six games, per the votes).

So which team would win a best-of-seven, 1985-86 or 2007-08? Could Ovechkin and Huet pull off the upset against a team that was apparently susceptible to one, or would Bryan Murray's best team be simply too much to handle?


S Season GP ROW ROL T/SO Adj Pts Pts% GF GF Rk GA GA Rk
4 1984-85 80 46 25 9 101 .631 322 8/21 240 2/21
5 2008-09 82 46 27
9
101 .616
272 3/30
245
20/30

The second match-up in this "regional" is remarkably similar to the first - the higher seed is from a year earlier than the other match-up's, the lower seed a year later than its counterpart. Both of these teams won in five games (right around 80% of the vote). On paper this would seem to be an incredibly even pairing - both teams won 46 games in regulation or overtime and tied (or won in a shootout) another nine for an adjusted point total of 101. Both teams could score. The difference, perhaps, is that the 1984-85 team could also defend (yep, Langway, Stevens and Murphy) and keep pucks out of the net (one year removed from Al Jensen and Pat Riggin winning the Jennings Trophy). (As an interesting sidenote, the 1984-85 team scored 50 more goals than the 2008-09 team, but finished ranked five spots lower in goals-for, and finished second in the League in goals-against, yielding just five fewer than the 20th-ranked 2008-09 team... how times change.)

Of note, the 1984-85 team was the "Goal Dust Twins" season, with Bobby Carpenter becoming the first U.S.-born 50-goal scorer in NHL history (ending up with 53) and Gartner reaching 50 as well. The 2008-09 team had a 50-goal scorer of their own, of course, as Alex Ovechkin scored 56 en route to his second consecutive Hart/Lindsay/Richard hat trick, and he was accompanied by 30-goal scorers up front (Alexander Semin) and on the blueline (Green), as well as an 88-point Backstrom. The Young Guns had arrived.

Both teams blew playoff series leads to end their respective seasons with familiar disappointment, but someone's gotta win here - so which team would win a best-of-seven, 1984-85 or 2008-09? Goal Dust or Young Guns?

***

And just like that, we're half way to our Final Four. Here's how the bracket's looking...

Capitals_tourney_part_v_large

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