Caps vs Islanders Pregame: Down, Not Out

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None of these people is Braden Holtby (Photo: Capstagram)

“We got our asses kicked in the first quarter, but it’s time we get up off the mat.”

The Caps lost game one. That’s the past. This is game two.

One of the dozen shots Ovi fires will hit the back of the net. Nick Backstrom will be used to maximum effect. Karl and Niskanen will remind us all how great they were during the regular season. Holtby will be healthy enough to play.

Islanders lead the series 1-0.

7 PM. Verizon Center, CSN, NBCSCN. Do the thing.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 45-26-11 51.9% 100.3 25.3% 81.2%
New York Islanders 47-28-7 53.5% 99.1 18.7% 78.0%

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

If you watched game one of the Capitals’ first-round playoff series with the New York Islanders on Wednesday, you probably remember it as a miserable, stomach-turning experience. The Caps seemed to lack focus and determination as they fell to the Isles 4-1.

That’s why I was so surprised to see Amanda’s photos from the game. Her shots from pre-game warmups show a team full of steely reserve. The players appear focused on the task before them, fully aware of the game’s importance. The photos of Marcus Johansson’s first-period goal show a team, and a fan base, full of passion and fire — both of which went missing from the rest of the game, only to play a huge role in the media narratives that followed.

Let’s hope the Caps from these pictures are the ones who show up to play Game 2 tonight.

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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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Braden Holtby Sick, Philipp Grubauer Recalled

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Photo: Kyle Mace/Chocolate Hockey

Good morning, Caps fans. Everything is fine on this lovely spring gameday morning except your franchise goalie is sick. Alex Prewitt reports that Braden Holtby isn’t feeling well today. We don’t know exactly what that means yet, but the Capitals have recalled Philipp Grubauer from the Hershey Bears.

At least Caps fans are having fun with it.

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For almost 60 minutes, the Washington Capitals looked in shambles as they faced the New York Islanders in game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The game was filled with bad decisions and sloppy mistakes. Washington has high hopes for this spring, but Wednesday’s performance put those dreams, at least for now, in doubt.

After the game, the locker room was filled with frustrated players, with many Capitals saying they lacked focus and threw away the fundamentals of hockey.

All that is a recipe for a hard practice full of yelling and skating the next day. Barry Trotz was asked Thursday if he considered doing that. His response was simple: “No.”

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Photo: Brad Herson

The Caps got crushed in game one by the New York Islanders, and they did it in front of one of the greatest baseball players of all-time.

Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., the original Great 8, was at Verizon Center last night, sitting in the lower bowl. This was first reported on Twitter by Talk The Red’s Brad Herson.

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Photo credit: Alex Brandon

Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Washington Capitals were confident. With a new coach this year, they had turned into a crisp, well-structured team, generally controlling the puck and therefore the play. They finished the season tied for the eighth highest point total in the league.

“In the past we were maybe sort of a rush team,” forward Brooks Laich, a veteran of the light ‘em up Presidents’ Trophy winning Capitals of 2010, said. “I don’t think we’re as high flying, high octane offense as we once were, but I think we’re a lot more difficult to play against this way. It should bode well for a sustained playoff run.”

“We’re gonna be ready,” Laich concluded.

They weren’t.

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Not a Good Start: Islanders beat Caps 4-1

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That feel. We know that feel.

In a disappointing effort, the Washington Capitals have dropped game one to the New York Islanders. The Isles played a nearly perfect game, and the Caps were on their heels from the game’s second shift.

Brock Nelson was all alone after a neutral-zone turnover, so he scored a quick one on Braden Holtby. Brooks Laich’s tenacious forecheck created a scoring opportunity for Marcus Johansson that he did not waste. But in the second period Ryan Strome scored a quick goal after John Tavares’ faceoff win, and Josh Bailey slapped a loose puck to put the Caps in a two-goal hole.

The third period had nothin’. Brock Nelson got an empty netter with 79 seconds left.

Isles beat Caps 4-1. Islanders lead the series 1-0.

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The Washington Capitals were outgunned and out-hustled in the first period against the New York Islanders. It felt like every dangerous chance came off of an Isles player’s stick. And then, with under a minute to go in the period, good ol’ Canadian Boy Brooks Laich shook things up.

Laich chased Jay Beagle’s seemingly harmless dump-in and won a battle behind the net. Laich’s tenacious forecheck created chaos, then a turnover. Once he got to the puck, Laich threw a beautiful pass to Marcus Johansson, skating hard to the slot. Mojo buried it.

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JOE SAKIC

Winning the Stanley Cup is incredibly difficult. After a grueling, 82-game regular season, the top 16 teams then compete in a small sample-size lottery face off with the intensity ratcheted up approximately one hundred notches. The first team to 16 wins bring home The Cup.

The fact is– even the teams thought to be favorites to win it all have the deck stacked against them. A few bad bounces here, a couple bad calls there, and it’s easy to see why “the field” is the best pick of all over any one team when picking a Cup winner.

We’ve already discussed why the Caps won’t be having a parade in June, and we looked at what needs to go right for them to have a realistic shot at riding down F Street on a float. Now here’s the one or two glaring weakness that will prevent every playoff team from winning the Stanley Cup.

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