Washington Capitals 2021 season preview: Can a new coach light a fire under Alex Ovechkin & Co.?

Elsa/Getty Images

The 2019-20 regular season went quite well for the Washington Capitals: as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, they looked to be a strong pick to make another run towards the Stanley Cup. Alex Ovechkin was doing Alex Ovechkin things -- that included reaching a major career milestone with goal No. 700.

Then the 2020 postseason happened, and it's one the Caps would like to forget. After an underwhelming qualification round robin, they lost in five games to the New York Islanders -- a team helmed by their former coach, Barry Trotz.

Looking ahead to 2020-21, what does this team have in store? Here's everything you need to know before opening night:

Big question: Can Peter Laviolette reignite the fire?

The Capitals fired Todd Reirden after just two seasons because they were stuck in a post-championship malaise. Veteran leaders, including Alex Ovechkin, wanted a coach that would help keep them accountable.

Washington got that in Laviolette, who has a reputation for being demanding. They also brought in longtime Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on an incentive-laden deal to add jam to the blue line, and accountability to the locker room. Will that translate to regular season success -- and more importantly, can it help them back over the playoff hump?