We’ve been here before Caps fans. Up with a huge lead in a series but then the other team starts winning. What makes it different this time is the Caps had a 3-0 lead and were going for their first sweep in a seven game series in their 42 year history. It wasn’t meant to be.
The Caps also had to deal with former Cap goaltender Michel Neuvirth, who brought his A-game and survived a vicious third period push. Now Washington comes home to Verizon Center where they hope to finish off this pesky Flyer team who look like they want nothing more than to cause injuries.
Finding Their Inner Rocky?
The Flyers came out in game 4 as a desperate team but also a smarter one. Not taking as many penalties and frustrating the Caps between the blue lines, they played like the team that made the playoffs that people thought would be a challenge. They won the special teams battle, scoring their first power play goal of the series and keeping Washington off the board in that department. To win game 5, they are going to have to do more of the same in a hostile, loud environment.
- Neuvirth saved 31 of 32 shots in his first game starting in the playoffs. He was named first star of the game.
- Wayne Simmonds recorded his first points of the series with an assist on both goals.
- Forward Scott Laughton flew into the end boards fighting for possession with defenseman John Carlson. His back or the back of his head made the hardest contact, and he laid motionless on the ice for several minutes before a stretcher came out to take him off. He appeared conscious as he was removed from the ice. He spent overnight at Jefferson Hospital for observation. His status for game 5 is unknown.
- There were a few questionable hits not called for penalties: Brayden Schenn’s attempt to cross-check Kuznetsov’s knees; Tom Wilson checked in the head by Brandon Manning. Both of these had “intent to injure” written all over them.
Getting the Four
With only four power plays between the Caps and Flyers, the chance to score came at a premium. The Caps played like they had “a few games in hand” and never had the intensity we saw in Games 1-3. By the time the Caps snapped out of it in the third period, Neuvirth swatted away any challenge they gave him. They outshot Philly 13-4 in the final frame.
“Every series is about getting the four. We need to get the four,” coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “The sooner you get the four, it gives you a couple opportunities to rest guys, heal guys (and get) a little mental break from the pressures of playoff hockey and a little more time to prepare.”
What Trotz said rings true and that is the mentality this team needs to have. Close this series out and get the four.
- T.J. Oshie scored the Caps lone goal (his first of the playoffs) and his sixth overall in his playoff career.
- Holtby still played solid saving 23 of the 25 shots for a .920 save percentage. His overall stats in four playoff games thus far: 3-1, 1.00 GAA, .966 save percentage, 1 assist.
Your starting goaltenders Friday will be Braden Holtby for the Caps, Michel Neuvirth for the Flyers. Puck drops at 7 p.m. in D.C.
ROCK THE RED! GO CAPS!