The Washington Capitals followed up their two dominating games in Tampa Bay with two lackluster performances in Washington. As a result, the best of seven series has become a best of three.
The Capitals arguably dominated the Lightning in Game 4, outshooting Tampa Bay 38-20, but came up short due to fantastic play in net by Andrei Vasilevskiy. If the Caps continue to play with the same offensive intensity they displayed in Game 4, they should be able to win two out of the next three games.
However, if Washington wants to return to the District with a 3-2 series lead, they need to improve on the power play. Going scoreless in seven opportunities on the power play at home is flat out unacceptable.
On the flip side, they also need to stop taking wreckless penalties. I don’t want to single anyone out in particular (Lars Eller), but you cannot continue to give a team like Tampa power plays and expect to win.
While there are those that are saying this series is over, it is far from it. Nicklas Backstrom is back from a lengthy hand injury and he could be the difference maker. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill seems to be giving him and Evgeny Kuznetsov a lot of time and space on the half wall. With that amount of space given to him, Backstrom should be able to pick apart the Lightning penalty kill.
The series is now up to Barry Trotz and company to adjust to Tampa Bay’s adjustments. If they do, the Caps should come out on top and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years. The pieces are there, it is up to the coaching staff to use them right.