Sports

'I didn't have doubts': Capitals' march to playoffs validates 1st-year coach Adam Oates

  • Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, gestures after he scored and an empty-net goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74), John Erskine (4) and Nicklas Backstrom (19), of Sweden, and Jets left wing Evander Kane skate around Ovechkin. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

    Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, gestures after he scored and an empty-net goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74), John Erskine (4) and Nicklas Backstrom (19), of Sweden, and Jets left wing Evander Kane skate around Ovechkin. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)  (The Associated Press)

  • Washington Capitals center Mathieu Perreault, right, celebrates his goal with Mike Green (52) against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

    Washington Capitals center Mathieu Perreault, right, celebrates his goal with Mike Green (52) against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)  (The Associated Press)

Adam Oates says he never doubted his system, even when the Washington Capitals were struggling mightily at the start of the season.

He knew others would be doubting him, though, because he was a first-year NHL coach. He just didn't want that doubt spreading among his players.

Oates said Wednesday he thinks he's proven his system does work now that the Capitals have turned the season around and clinched the Southeast Division title.

Washington has two games remaining in the regular season to fine-tune Oates' system before hosting Game 1 against a yet-to-be-determined opponent next week.

Then it will be time to see if Oates can do something that hasn't happened in a long time — get the Capitals deep into the playoffs.