The Washington Capitals have the edge in the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. While it may be tied at two apiece, the series has become a best of three, two of which will be in DC.
Through the first four games, there have been a few things that have stood out to me.
The Capitals have a special teams index of 110.6 percent (power play percentage plus penalty kill percentage). 100 is considered average and with the Caps at 110, I would say they are doing quite well in the special teams department this series. It was unrealistic to think the Caps penalty kill would remain perfect. However, you would also like to see the Caps be much more disciplined. The too many men on the ice penalty at the end of Game 4 can’t happen. For the Caps to win two of the next three, they will have to continue their special teams prowess.
First line right wing
Whether you agree with Tom Wilson’s suspension or not, the Caps have to deal with it and Devante Smith-Pelly was not the solution.
I don't wanna harp on it forever, but top-line DSP was the ENTIRE margin of defeat for the Caps. Outshot 21 to 6 in 14.7 minutes is comically incompetent. https://t.co/jLZCZeQWin
— Good Tweet Pete 🌮 (@peterhassett) May 4, 2018
Barry Trotz failed to make an adjustment in Game 4 and it cost the Caps dearly. The reason why Wilson works well with the duo of Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov is that Wilson has high-end skill that DSP does not. While the second line is clicking, I would not be totally opposed to Trotz putting TJ Oshie on the top line and moving Jakub Vrana up to the second line.
Braden Holtby has outplayed Matt Murray this series. That will need to continue if the Caps want to win this series. Murray has struggled mightily in Games 3 and 4, while I am not a goalie expert, it is clear that something has been off with him lately. The Caps will need to continue to exploit his glove side weakness to come out on top in this series
For perhaps the first time ever, the Caps are actually getting what seems like the majority of odd-man rushes. The frustrating part is they somehow seem to always miss the net. For example, when Jay Beagle and Lars Eller had a two-on-one shorthanded rush, I would have liked to see Beagle go for a low shot rebound rather than try to go up high on the short side. The Caps need to, at the very least, make Murray make a save on their odd-man rushes.
The best of seven is now a best of three and the Caps have the advantage, despite coming off a loss. If the Caps continue to outplay Pittsburgh and capitalize on their opportunities, they should be moving on to the next round.