Hockey fans from the capital of the United States tune in every game to cheer on a Capitals team led by a Russian superstar, an elite Swedish center and a Canadian goalie. Hockey truly is an international game with many players coming from all around the world to don those red sweaters.
We know who some of the best Capitals were, but what if you separated the players by their native countries? Where have the best Capitals players really come from? Let's look at some of the best players in franchise history to determine what the best lineup is (two wings, one center, two defensemen and one goalie).
The first three lineups were the best Russian, Swedish and Czech lineups. Let's look at the best lineup from the rest of Europe.
Dmitri Khristich - Lars Eller - Peter Bondra
Like most of these lineups, there is at least one no-brainer and the 500-goal scorer Bondra is that player here. He was a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner and the best goal scorer in franchise history until some guy named Alex Ovechkin game along. Bondra also won a world championship gold and bronze medal representing Slovakia.
There were not many natural centers to consider here so Eller was an easy choice. He may be the most clutch player in the history of the franchise considering he scored the overtime winner to save the season in Game 3 against the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018 and he scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal later in that postseason against the Vegas Golden Knights.
For the third forward, I considered Richard Zednik and Dainius Zubrus, but Khristich was the much more prolific offensive producer throughout his career so he got the nod. Khristich scored 36 goals and 37 assists in just the second season of his career. His goals and points totals for that season proved to be career highs. It sure seemed over the course of his career that there was a bit more potential there that he just could not tap into, but 596 career points in 811 NHL games is nothing to be ashamed of by any means.
Timo Blomqvist - Milan Jurcina
The Swiss Jonas Siegenthaler will crack this blue line in the very near future, but for now I will go with Blomqvist and Jurcina. There are not many European defensemen who are not from Russia, Sweden or the Czech Republic who played for the Caps as part of an extended NHL career. Blomqvist was a fifth-round pick for Washington in 1980 out of Finland. He would play 243 NHL games in his career, 223 of them with the Caps over the course of four seasons. He also would captain the Finnish National Team to a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics.
Jurcina hailed from Liptovsky Mikulas in Slovakia. He was a big body on the blue line with a massive shot, but was primarily a stay-at-home defenseman and spent the bulk of his NHL career with the Caps playing 211 games with six goals and 30 assists.
This one was an easy choice. Kolzig was born in South Africa, but his parents were German and that is the national team he represented throughout his career. While Braden Holtby has manned the crease for several years and, in my mind, supplanted Kolzig as the best goalie in franchise history, that does not take away from what Kolzig accomplished or meant to the Caps. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2000 as the NHL's best netminder and manned the crease in Washington for parts of 16 seasons. He led the franchise to its first Stanley Cup Final in 1998 with an immaculate .941 save percentage, out-dueling Dominik Hasek in the conference final.
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What is the Caps' best all-time lineup throughout the rest of Europe? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington