The cases for, against the Capitals returning to Stanley Cup Final

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In the last 20 years only one team has won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

The Pittsburgh Penguins' Cup Final victory over the Nashville Predators in 2016-17 marked the first time since the Detroit Red Wings won championships in 1996-97 and 1997-98 that a team raised the Cup in consecutive seasons.

Making two straight appearances in the Cup Final is slightly less rare. Pittsburgh and Detroit played each other to decide the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, and the Dallas Stars competed for a title in 1998-99 and 1999-2000.

This season, the Washington Capitals have the look of a team that could make back-to-back Cup appearances into a trend. Winners of eight of their last 10, the Caps are in first place in the Metropolitan Division at 18-9-3 with a plus-20 goal differential.

Is Washington's hot start for real? How do they compare to last season's team? Can they really win the East two years in a row with such strong competition in the conference? Let's have a look.