The great thing about the NHL playoffs is that for fans, it’s the perfect time of year to be overtly critical of small details just one game into a series. It’s perfectly acceptable to freak out in the face of defeat and then come back to Earth hours later.
So how about we do that for a moment, starting with the 90 second breakdown that lost the Washington Capitals Game 1 of their series with the New York Rangers.
For 90 seconds the Capitals reverted back to their pre-Boston Bruins series selves and though Caps fans didn’t exactly go nuts (to be fair, fans responded quite well with a “well, you don’t win a series with one game” attitude), there were some reasons to be alarmed moving forward.
The first alarm to go off is the post-game comments about having trouble getting into the correct mental state to play the way they did against the Bruins.
While the Rangers aren’t as physically intense as the Bruins, it’s somewhat disappointing that just 48 hours after turning in one of their best playoff performances ever, the Caps couldn’t replicate it.
That’s what championship teams do, so let’s just leave it at that.
Then there was Braden Holtby’s less-than-stellar game, but we all knew a game like that would eventually happen. He’ll get a pass on that for now because it’s better to stink in Game 1 than an elimination game.
Now to the topic we initially wanted to freak out about – the Caps ability to transform back into the Bruce Boudreau-era playoff style.
Despite limiting shots, the Caps gave up plenty of odd-man breaks. Miscommunications on line changes and other defensive assignments in a short span in the third period put any road-win hopes to bed and one other factor – which may have gone unnoticed – was a reliance on stretch passes to break the Rangers forecheck (which I would think isn’t that much tougher than the Bruins’).
Stretch passes have their place (see Jason Chimera’s goal), but too many can be a bit dangerous. That’s just me nit picking though…
Yes, for a short amount of time the Capitals fell into the old traps the doomed their past playoff hopes, but it’s only Game 1.
We can only hope that seeing these old habits creep back onto the ice will lead to a swift return to the style of hockey we saw against Boston. If Washington can’t get back to what got them to Round 2 right away, get ready to be mighty salty this summer.
NHL in MS Paint
Short week for the Potpourri due to some other work, but thankfully the user who wants to be known as “ChimDog” provided this picture of No. 25 going beastmode. You can tell because he says it.
Lovely. Send all NHL in MS Paint submission to reedalbers[at]gmail.com.