The Washington Capitals are finishing up the regular season in less than stellar fashion. In the last six games before the Islanders, the Caps were shut out in three regulation games and have averaged 1.67 goals-for per game. Washington has just four five-on-five goals in those six games. The ‘snake-bitten’ Caps have also hit the crossbar more and more the last few games (2 in Philly, 5 in Colorado and 2 in Arizona). So what can this be attributed to?
“Sometimes, we might over-pass a little bit,” Caps Coach Barry Trotz said. “A good example was the [Evgeny Kuznetsov] one where [Arizona] came down and scored after that. My first reaction is that he should have probably shot it, then I watched it on film and went, ‘Well, he didn’t have a really good shot.’ He could’ve played the puck as an indirect pass off the goalie type of thing, but really, I don’t think he had much to shoot at.”
Injuries and Rest
This season the Caps has been VERY fortunate with injuries. Recently however, Niklas Backstrom, their star center, has been plagued with an upper body injury. Luckily it seems he will be fine for the playoffs but without him in the lineup lately, the Caps are winless. Once he’s back, the Caps will show marked improvement.
Ovechkin and Holtby continue to play despite already capturing the President’s Trophy, Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division. Holtby because he’s going after Brodeur’s win record (48) and Ovechkin wants 50 goals (sits at 47 with three games left.) Trotz seems to be accounting for this by giving the team some days off during these last four games.
Pressure on Holtby
No goaltender in the game has as much pressure on him right now than Braden Holtby. What looked to be the tying of Broduer’s record quickly evaporated in the 3rd as the Caps gave up a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3 in OT. He has two legit chances left as I don’t see him doing back to back in St. Louis then coming back here to play the Ducks.
The Caps have had to endure the toughest four-game stretch to end the season: the Islanders, Penguins, Blues and Ducks. All have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and are still fighting for positioning.
The Islanders clinched their playoff spot with their win last night. They are looking to play Florida in round one.
The Penguins are the hottest team in the NHL and sit in second behind the Caps with 102 points. They are 13-1 in their last 14 games and have been without their star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for nearly a week as he’s out with a concussion. Young phenom Matt Murray (8-2-1) has taken the reins and has posted a 3-0 record with a shutout and a 1.66 GAA.
The St. Louis Blues sit at 105 points and are tied with the Dallas Stars for the top seed in the West. Each have two games remaining.
The Ducks have clinched their playoff spot and really don’t have much to play for. This game will most likely see both sides resting players unless Holtby is going for the wins record.
Should fans be panicking? Absolutely not. The games that count are in the playoffs. Trotz has pointed out that these next four games are a chance to iron out mistakes and get ready for what we hope is a long run to their first Stanley Cup.
ROCK THE RED! GO CAPS!