So how are you all feeling today? Let’s take a look on Twitter and OH MY GOD CAPS FANS.
Wow, tell us how you really feel.
There is no sugar coating this: the Capitals have managed to self-destruct in spectacular fashion the past two games. Every year, it is rather remarkable how they find new and extraordinary ways to self immolate. The first time it was lack of defense. Next, no third line scoring. This year, Braden Holtby is getting shellacked for his less than stellar performance.
So how can the Caps try find a way to comeback against the Penguins? There is actually a few ways.
Stop allowing odd-man rushes
Of the nine goals the Penguins have scored in this series, six have been off odd-man rushes. It is easy to blame Braden Holtby for this, because he typically makes most of these saves. The Jake Guentzel goal is one that he has acknowledged he must save, and he is right.
Pens coach Mike Sullivan knew odd-man rushes would help him, but the fact that it is the primary mode of offense for the Penguins is something he did not expect.
Washington has to know that this is their primary mode of scoring and account for it. Maybe it means leaving one man higher in the slot for a back check, maybe it means a defenseman needs to play a bit more conservatively, but something has to disallow these rushes.
Finish from high danger scoring areas
Marc-Andre Fleury has stood on his head in this series. His closest comparison is Tim Thomas of the Bruins in that 2011 Stanley Cup run in terms of team CorsiFor and save percentage. However, there is a place where the Caps can take advantage: high danger scoring areas. In Game Two, the Capitals had almost 14 shot attempts from the slot, but only the Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom goals made it in. Simply put, the Penguins are netting their chances in the slot and just off to the side, and the Capitals are not. There is reason to be slightly optimistic though. Marc-Andre Fleury, throughout the season, had the third worst high danger scoring area save percentage. If the Caps keep getting chances, burying them will be crucial.
Keep up the pressure
There are things Washington is doing right. They are out attempting the Penguins by a hefty margin.
In fact, there have been sections of games where Washington has looked dominant.
I feel like the first period of this Caps-Pens game is what people thought Caps-Leafs would be for four games.
— Steve Dangle Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) April 30, 2017
It is easy to look back at these games and declare that the Capitals are toast and the self-fulfilling prophecy of losing in the second round has reared its head again. It will be difficult for that not to be the case: Mike Sullivan’s record when closing out series is 16-2. However, there are at least 120 more minutes to play. Time to see if the Capitals can flip the script and write a new ending by forging ahead with some of the good that they are doing.