Washington Capitals reporter Isabelle Khurshudyan explains how the team has changed in the past year and how that could affect its playoff chances. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

In parting ways with Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward and acquiring T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams in the offseason, the Washington Capitals did more than dramatically alter the look and feel of their forward corps. They also became, in hockey parlance, significantly less “heavy.”

Oshie scored a career-high 26 goals this season, and he is 24 pounds lighter than Brouwer, whom Washington traded to St. Louis for Oshie. The Capitals also signed Williams, a stabilizing, experienced leader who weighs 40 pounds less than Ward, the power forward who left Washington in free agency.

The result has been overwhelmingly favorable: The Capitals clinched the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record in the NHL before any other Eastern Conference team secured a playoff berth and have a balanced lineup with five 20-goal scorers — Oshie and Williams included — other than Alex Ovechkin.

But Washington’s bolstered forward corps thinned the roster as a whole, and the Capitals are no longer the heaviest team in the league like they were last year. Entering the postseason a year ago, Washington emphasized playing a physical style that suited its size. When the first round of the playoffs starts Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Capitals will be more hybrid than “heavy.”

“We have a little more speed and a little more of a skill element,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “I still think we’re capable of being fairly heavy. Versus some teams in the league, we would be considered still a heavy team. Against other teams, we wouldn’t be as heavy as we were last year.”

Washington is heftier than Philadelphia, its roster averaging 205 pounds to the Flyers’ 197. Every player is still capable of a style of finished checks and strong forechecks. But the Capitals are bottom-heavy, their top two forward lines gravitating more toward skill than physicality.

As Trotz listed off his forwards, he admitted that young, speedy forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson don’t naturally play what he would define a “heavy” game. He classified Oshie as more “tenacious” and Williams as being “pretty hard on the puck.”

“I think we automatically played a heavy game last year,” General Manager Brian MacLellan said. “This year, we kind of migrate towards a skill game because Oshie can play both, to me. Our first line likes to throw the puck around. They like to make plays. They like to make a play off the rush. Our second line, too. That’s their natural way they play is a skill game, but I think it’s important that Oshie can play physical, Ovi can play physical. It’s important to be able to do both.”

The Capitals will lean on Ovechkin to use every ounce of his powerful 239-pound frame and for Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik to wear opposing players down with hard checks. Trotz said Jason Chimera (216 pounds), Mike Richards (196 pounds) and Daniel Winnik (203 pounds) can play the stylistically heavy brand of hockey that doesn’t come as organically for Washington’s top two lines.

“We’ll still be hard,” Trotz said. “I don’t think we are as grind-type of a team as we were last year.”

The question then becomes, exactly what type of a team are the Capitals? In his postgame meetings with reporters, Trotz has often said that Washington “played the game that was presented,” so if it was a physical, grinding opponent, the team matched that style — and likewise for speed teams.

Washington’s lineup is so balanced and varied that it doesn’t have one specialized identity. Against Philadelphia, expect “a physical series. . . . It’s going be tight checking and probably a little bit nasty at times,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said.

“I think we play the game that’s thrown at us,” Trotz said. “I’d like us to dictate more. Every coach would. . . . We’re a puck-possession team. We get the puck, and I want us to possess the puck and hang on to it and make plays, but also manage the game. I think last year we had a line that could probably dangle a little bit more into the zone, and the rest of the lines were more of a chip-and-chase because we were pretty straightforward.

“This year, I think we’re probably two and two, where we’re going to have a little more balance. Two of the lines have to keep it pretty simple, and the other two probably have a little more skill to be a little bit more creative.”