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Caps Summer Series: Reliving the Caps' magical 1998 run to the Stanley Cup Finals

Caps Summer Series: Reliving the Caps' magical 1998 run to the Stanley Cup Finals

The playoff history of the Washington Capitals is largely one of heartache, but there was one magical year when the stars aligned.

In 1998, the Capitals won its first, and to date only conference championship to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Everything that seems to go wrong for Washington in the postseason went right that year. In that playoff run, the Caps won five of the seven games that went to overtime including all three overtime games in the conference finals against the Buffalo Sabres.

RELATED: Capitals re-sign Liam O'Brien

Obviously, those wins take skill, but for a team that has been beset by ill fortune in the postseason, the change in fortune for one postseason stands as a refreshing memory for play-by-play announcer Joe Beninati as he shared in Saturday's episode of the Caps Summer Series.

For Alan May, what he remembers about that run is the total team effort it took to bring the team to the closest it has ever come to a Stanley Cup. Olaf Kolzig was masterful in net and the team got big contributions from Joe Juneau, Adam Oates, Peter Bondra, Brian Bellows, Andrei Nikolishin, Sergei Gonchar, Richard Zednick and Calle Johansson.

Check out their discussion on the 1998 playoff run from the show in the video above.

Unfortunaley for Washington, the team that awaited them in the Finals was a Detroit Red Wings team that ranks among the greatest teams of all time. But, despite the loss in the Finals, it is still fun to reminisce about the one year Washington managed to go deep into the playoffs.

The last episode of the Caps Summer Series will focus on the team's prospects and will air on Thursday at 7 p.m. on CSN.

MORE CAPITALS: Best Capitals fans moments

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Despite tumultuous offseason, Brian MacLellan declares 'We've got a good team'

Despite tumultuous offseason, Brian MacLellan declares 'We've got a good team'

Reports of the Capitals' demise have been greatly exaggerated. So says general manager Brian MacLellan.

Washington has undergone a tumultuous offseason that has seen the departure of several key players including Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams, Nate Schmidt and Karl Alzner, among others. There is no doubt Capitals are not the same team that ran away with the Presidents' Trophy the past two seasons, but MacLellan wants you to know that doesn't mean the Caps will nosedive next season.

“People make it sound like we’re a lottery team," MacLellan said in an interview with the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga. "I’m shocked by that. We’ve got good players. I want people to know: We’ve got a good team.”

RELATED: The time is now for prospect Walker to make history

The Capitals have loaded up their roster for several years in the hopes of winning the ever elusive Stanley Cup. But no team can reload forever, especially in the salary cap era. That seems to have caught up to the Caps this offseason.

MacLellan went on to address each of the major moves the team made, or didn't make, over the summer.

  • Losing Schmidt: The multiple goalies available in the expansion draft and in free agency made Philipp Grubauer less attractive to Vegas which is why the two teams could not come to an agreement to protect Schmidt. MacLellan also sees defense as an "organizational strength" for Washington with several prospects poised to compete for NHL time. “We like Schmidt,” MacLellan said. “But it’s not as huge a deal as people are making it out to be.”
  • Trading Johansson: MacLellan netted what the market dictated he could get for Johansson at that point in the offseason. Trading him earlier in the summer did not make sense because MacLellan would not know whether or not he would need to until after the final numbers on the Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and T.J. Oshie deals were in.
  • Signing Oshie for eight years: “The decision becomes: Do we want Oshie or not?” MacLellan said. “I don’t know what the stink is. Oshie, he’s a big part of our culture. He drives the team. We felt it was necessary. People like Williams at 36, but they don’t like Oshie at 36?”
  • Signing Kuznetsov for eight years, $62.4 million: “We sat there and said, ‘Kuzy’s 25 years old.’ He’s going to be a No. 1 center. It’s the way the league’s going — speed, youth. We’ve got two good centers [along with Nicklas Backstrom]. We spent forever trying to find the 1-2 punch. How can we not do it?’”

You can read Svrluga's full article here.

MORE CAPITALS: Why prospect Jakub Vrana can find success in 2017-18

Check out the latest episode of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast!

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Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Chandler Stephenson

Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Chandler Stephenson

As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.

They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.

It's time to take a look at which top prospects have the tools to become a full-time NHL player and what they have to do to get the call-up from Hershey.

Our first entry was on enigmatic prospect Jakub Vrana. Next, we previewed Nathan Walker, who is on track to make NHL hisotry this season.

Now it's time to look at Chandler Stephenson.

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Position: Center
Age: 23
Height: 6-0
Weight: 190 pounds
Contract: Two-Way. Two-year, $1.3 Million (2017)

AHL Seasons: 3 (172 games)
2016-17 AHL Stats: 72 games, 10 goals, 28 assists
NHL Seasons: 2 (13 games)
2016-17 NHL Stats: 4 games, 3 shots on goal

PREVIEWING 2017-18 BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: Tom Wilson | Brett Connolly | Andre Burakovsky

Tarik El-Bashir's Prospect Preview:
Chandler Stephenson possesses most of the prerequisites.

Skating? Check.

Size? Check.

Hockey sense? Check. 

Now, according to Bears Coach Troy Mann, it’s time for the 2012 third rounder to mix in one final element as he attempts to make the jump from the minors to Washington this fall.
“I just think it’s consistency,” Mann said this week in a guest appearance on CSN’s Capitals Faceoff Podcast. “We talk about that with a lot of our young players.”

Mann added: “The positive note on Stephenson is I thought he was excellent for us in the playoffs. He was very good down the stretch, as well. We would not have made the playoffs if it wasn’t for him.”

In 72 games with the Bears last season, Stephenson notched career highs in goals (10) and assists (28). He also chipped in with three goals and two assists in nine playoff games.
In four games with the Caps, the 23-year-old did not record a point. But he also saw very limited ice time in those contests.

Looking ahead to training camp, Stephenson will find himself among a handful of bottom-six forwards looking to break through, joining fellow prospects such as Nathan Walker, Riley Barber, Travis Boyd, Liam O’Brien and others. 

It’s going to be an intriguing battle and, obviously, a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. In Mann’s estimation, though, it’s only a matter of time before Stephenson is playing for the Caps full-time. 

“He could surprise some people,” Mann said. “I really believe he can be a solid NHLer for years to come based on his physical and mental makeup.”

Jill Sorenson's Prospect Analysis:
What He Has:
 Stephenson has NHL speed and could arguably have been the best skater on the Hershey Bears last season. The center is solid from the faceoff dot and serves as a solid playmaker. 

What He Needs to Do: Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann said if Stephenson could be a little more consistent in his game, that will set him apart from the competition for those forward spots open in Washington. He plays mostly Center for the Bears but could certainly make the switch to wing without an issue.