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First Round Preview: Washington Capitals

They didn’t arrive perfectly to their first round matchup against the New York Islanders, but the Washington Capitals are arriving with momentum. After a strong showing against the Boston Bruins they grabbed the third seed. Landing them a match against their former coach Barry Trotz. Will the Caps break the Islanders defense or will their coach come back to haunt them?

The Schedule:

All Times are in Eastern Time:

1: Tuesday, August 12 at 3:00 PM

2: Thursday, August 14 at 8:00 PM 

3: Saturday, August 16 at 12:00 PM 

4: Monday, August 18 at 8:00 PM 

5: Wednesday, August 20 TBD – If necessary

6: Friday, August 22 TBD – If necessary

7: Saturday, August 23 TBD If necessary

What Does Caps Need To Happen?

It will be a series of one of the best offenses in the league, against one of the best defensive sides. Therefore the obvious answer is that Washington’s offense needs to win this battle. With players like Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Evgeny Kuznetsov this certainly isn’t a farfetched thought. That type of star power should and is rightfully feared all across the league. If the Cap wins this series and goes far in the playoff, it’s from these superstars.

Photo by: Dinur Blum (@rabbi_d)

However alone they won’t do enough. Therefore another critical point for the Caps will be depth scoring. Especially from Ilya Kovalchuk, Jakub Vrana and Lars Eller. All three more than able to produce, but if they hit their marks, the Caps can reach Lord Stanley once again.

The last part is the special teams. Ovi’s office needs to be moved to Toronto and on the powerplay, it has to be in session. On paper, the Caps have one of the most stacked powerplay lines. A category that only becomes far more important in the playoff. You might not be able to win a series purely on special teams, however, you can absolutely lose it. Against a defensive team like the Islanders, you need to score on any chance given. The greatest often come on the powerplay, so it has to be sharp.

How Could Caps Exit In The First Round?

Outside being shut down by a strong islanders defense with Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Devon Toews, the main reason Washington could lose in the first round is goaltending. Not goaltending from the Islanders, but more so the goaltending of Braden Holtby.

While in years prior, he has been solid as a rock between the pipes, this year has been a different story. Holtby has been struggling and even lost his starting position to Ilya Samsonov earlier in the season. However, an injury to Samsonov means that he isn’t taking part in the playoff, and therefore Washington Holtby to stand on his head. He has to be 2018 good, and if he isn’t or gets hurt, the series and playoff run might be over.

Photo by: Dinur Blum (@rabbi_d)

They don’t have anyone who can back him up, and in a compact and very intense schedule with plenty of game injuries, or fatigue is likely to happen. Holtby is the part that Washington will either rise or fall on. He is the one question mark and the way the Islanders win this series.

Final Prediction

Personally I think Washington got just about enough in the tank to win against New York. It’s far from an easy series and the Islanders can give them a good first-round scare, but the pure strength of the Caps roster gives them an edge. I’m predicting a win for Washington in 7 games.

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