Capitals – Golden Knights: Game One Jitters? Simple Things to Fix.

The Capitals and Knights finally met up in Las Vegas for Game One of the Stanley Cup Final and there was little doubt that both teams were a bit on edge. They were focused, but neither team came out playing their best. In the end, Vegas took a final goal lead and closed the deal with an empty net goal, 6-4 VGK.

So a day later, how are we reflecting on the game? There are a few sour grapes circulating in the post-game atmosphere. There was a lot of back-and-forth this first game of the series which made for a good bit of tension too.

Some say we lost it because of a missed cross check to John Carlson that resulted in a game-tieing goal by Tomas Nosek. Maybe? Bad calls and missed calls happen. Trotz had this to say:

Some blame the interference call on Tom Wilson that put him on notice and put  one man from each team in the box. Thankfully he did not have to go before the NHL Player Safety Board again, but we would like to see less of these plays that put the team in jeopardy.

And how about the refs inability to count players when it seems convenient – like when David Perron of the VGK jumped the bench to join in the brawl over the Wilson hit? He hit Ovechkin in the process for which he was given a penalty for cross checking and joined Willy in the box. Technically he could have received a game misconduct and as a player leaving the bench, he could have received a 10-game suspension. It won’t happen and here is why, according to SportsNet.

Still others think it has something to do with a missed call on a slash to Lars Eller by Brayden McNabb that meant Eller didn’t get the goal to tie the game to 5-5. Instead we had the empty net and the clincher goal.

How about that equipment failure for Devante Smith-Pelly in the third period? He was obviously upset after because again, it was a missed opportunity for the Caps. The Knights took a 5-4 lead right after.

Or was it the ice…

A missing Alex Ovechkin?  He had an assist on the Tom Wilson goal in the third period. He only had two shots on goal on four big hits. He played 19:09 minutes, a few seconds less then Oshie, Kuznetzov, and Backstrom. They all notched a point; however, only Backstrom recorded a goal. Is that enough??

On the plus side- TJ Oshie was like a brick house and awesome moving the puck.

John Carlson was AMAZING as usual. We have come to expect more and more from the guy who gets more ice time then any other player. He got the team to a 3-3 tie in the second. And he played 24:55, just slightly more then Dmitry Orlov with 24:14 and Matt Niskanen with 24:08. Clearly the emphasis was on defense Monday night, with the d-men playing offense as Carly scored and Michal Kempny had as assist on the first Caps goal by Connolly.

Our end of the game analysis is that it was close – really close. Some of the officiating seemed to lean towards the Golden Boys of the NHL. We are greedy and want to see more from our team. Las Vegas is not going silently in the night – they want this just as much as the Caps. The game was more physical than we anticipated – perhaps so for the Caps too?

Without question the team needs to evaluate their play. We were spoiled by the team that played those last two games against Tampa Bay. Those weren’t them Monday night. But we think they are still there. Braden Holtby was not a total brick wall – and the Caps have to contend with the guy at the other end of the ice that wants this as much as the Holtbeast. How do they find the chink in the armor of Sir Fleury?

The Caps need to increase their net presence and pressure. They had some problems with a lack of players to catch the rebounds. They were slower getting there then the Knights – that whole speed thing we keep hearing about really bit them Monday. The Knights had a few surprises up their sleeves – like that fourth line that includes Nosek and Reaves who were the thorns in the Caps side.

We still have faith in Coach Trotz to sort it out. We still believe in this band of red soldiers fighting for their city. We still expect to see them win four and bring that big shiny object to the streets of DC. As Alex said last night:

“I think next game is going to be different, and all the nervousness, all the bad thing goes away in this game. We just have to forget about it and bounce back next one.”

Author: Maggie Marcum

Managing Editor for Friends in Cold Places.

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