Breaking Down the Islanders’ OTGWG in Game Three


Photo: Bruce Bennett

The Washington Capitals lost just fifteen seconds into overtime of game three, and it was totally preventable.

After a comedy of errors and poor decisions by the Capitals, John Tavares chipped a loose puck over Braden Holtby‘s shoulder to give the Islanders a 2-1 series lead.

I asked former Caps blogger Eric Rigsby– a coach, an ex-college club player, and current Old Fat Bald Guys hockey player– to break down the play for us.

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Photo: Rob Carr

The morning after getting pwn’d by the Islanders in game one, the Capitals held an optional skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Barry Trotz said that many of the mistakes the Caps made the night before were ones the team had worked on all season long. They knew better, Troz said, so an actual practice on the ice would serve little purpose. That said, I’m sure Trotz reviewed a lot of game tape with the team, hopefully some from the Caps’ two failed power plays.

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano had his penalty killers play in an aggressive box formation against the Caps’ top-ranked power play. Basically, the Isles player nearest the puck would skate out quickly to force a bad decision by the Caps. The Isles penalty kill, ranked 26th in the league during the regular season (76 percent), thrives on chaos created by their team speed. The Caps made long passes, turned the puck over, and were unable to set up Alex Ovechkin more than once in the left circle. On top of that, the Isles had scouted the Caps power play so much, it seemed as if they knew where the puck was going to go before the Caps did.

Watch how discombobulated the Caps were during their first man advantage.

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Tom Wilson draws (and takes) a lot of penalties. (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Throughout the season, the Washington Capitals have generated a lot of offense during four-on-four play. With Tom Wilson, who leads the Caps in penalties taken and drawn per 60 minutes of ice time, expected to return to the line-up, it’s not farfetched to think we may see some coincidental penalties doled in the first round series against the Islanders.

While four-on-four play only accounted for 178.5 of the 5002 minutes of the time Caps spent on the ice during the regular season, the Caps scored 13 goals (good for second in the league and among playoff teams) in those situations, meaning they scored at a rate roughly 57 percent higher than in all situations and almost twice as high as during the five-on-five play.

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Photo: @WashCaps

At mid-season, Braden Holtby was near the top of almost every important goaltending statistic in the NHL. He was also starting nearly every game for the Washington Capitals.

NBCSN’s Pierre McGuire asked the Holtbeast in January about his heavy workload after a nationally televised game (which he won). Holtby’s response:

Since then, Holtby has played even more. He’s got a 41-19-10 record, nine shutouts, a 2.21 GAA and .923 save percentage. He’s set a franchise-record 24 consecutive games and faced over 2000 shots. If Holtby plays Saturday against the Rangers, he’ll match Olie Kolzig‘s franchise record for most appearances in a single season (73). If that happens, Holtby, according to CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley, would become the 21st goalie in NHL history to play in 73 or more games in a single season.

So, the question is this: Should the Caps rest Holtby on Saturday?

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The best part of RMNB, I think, is the community. Helping a family during a dark time, scrounging up a bunch of discontinued hockey sticks, or just general fun in the comments– participation is what makes RMNB fun for me.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve wondered how I can make this an even better place. The answer came to me from the SB Nation blog Cage Side Seats: More GIFs. Sometimes we’ll be discussing things in the comments, and words just aren’t enough. Sometimes you need to convey how you feel. The best way to do that is with GIFs.

So, for every notable person in the Caps organization, I will present an article full of my favorite GIFs and my recommendations on when to use them in the comments or in social media.

First up, Barry Trotz!

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Photo: @andreburakovsky

A few days ago, when he was still in Hershey, Andre Burakovsky took a photo with the  Easter Bunny and teammate Liam O’Brien.

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An early 21st century GIF

It seems like everyone and their mom is sharing stats today about how great Alex Ovechkin is. (This was my personal favorite.) Instead, I’d like to focus on one of Ovechkin’s quirks that makes him similar to another generational athlete: Michael Jordan.

You see, like Mike, Ovechkin is inarguably one of the greatest scorers of his sport. And, like Mike, Ovi routinely sticks out his tongue before big moments in his career.

For instance, Ovechkin wagged his tongue last night before becoming the Capitals’ all-time goal-scoring king. I bet you didn’t even know that! As the Russian machine cut to the middle of the ice, evading a facing-the-wrong-direction PK Subban, he stuck his tongue out. Then he fired and scored, ripping a shot past Carey Price that made Price shake his head like, ‘What in the hell even was that?

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Via Reddit Hockey

The Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the league by a country mile, managing only 45 standings points in 69 games. But that doesn’t even begin to articulate just how stinky their eye-watering stank is.

Let’s use Alex Ovechkin as a comparison. He is one (1) hockey player. Before last night, the Russian machine, in some categories, had better offensive stats than the entire Buffalo Sabres line-up put together. That’s 18 hockey players, and our crazy, gray-haired Russian is better than all of them.

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Every game, Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz jots his notes onto a notecard he keeps in his suit coat. As the Caps and Rangers left the ice for the first intermission on Wednesday, NBCSN showed a close-up shot of Trotz looking all philosophical-like, holding his top secret notes for all the world to see.

Let’s enhance!

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Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Eventful Game Against Buffalo


Photo: Elsa

In Saturday’s 6-1 trouncing of the Sabres, Evgeny Kuznetsov caught my eye on a couple of goals. On the lone Sabres tally, Kuzy seemed confused on where he should be. On one Caps goal, Kuzy was instrumental in helping to end Brooks Laich’s long goal-less streak.

Before taking a look at the two plays, I’d caution against reaching grand conclusions on Kuznetsov’s game based off of any two plays, including these. But, Kuznetsov has been criticized for inconsistent play this season, and performances like the one detailed below are an example of what draws that criticism.

Here’s what Barry Trotz had to say about the rookie’s development this morning:

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