Friday, 3 May 2013

That's How You Do It - Caps Win Game 1!

Ovi reels away after scoring

The Caps came into last night's game, their first of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. knowing that they would face a tough series against the team that ruined their dreams in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals last year. They certainly showed they were ready for a good series with a great performance:

The Caps, to put it in short, were far more aggressive and fast than the Rangers, outclassing them throughout the first period, outshooting them 14-8. However, the Caps failed to convert one of these shots into a goal, and to make matters worse Carl Hagelin scored an admittedly lucky goal after his wrap around shot deflected off Erskine's skate. It didn't seem like it would be the Caps' game - until Alex Ovechkin showed up with a fantastic powerplay goal six minutes into the second, assisted by Mike Green and Nick Backstrom - this equaliser from the ex-young guns was all the Caps needed, and with Holtby continuing to stop shots like a brick wall. Just a few minutes later, Steve Oleksy found Marcus Johansson for a breakaway goal. The Caps were ahead, but Jason Chimera wasn't satisfied with a one goal game, as not a minute later he scored on a, quite frankly, weird shot  that caught Lundqvist off guard. During all this time, the Rangers were not giving in - throughout the second they outshot the Caps 16-9 and in the third put 12 on net to Washington's 7. However, they were met with the unstoppable force known simply as Braden Holtby. He stopped 35 of 36 shots during the game, for a save percentage of .972 - Henrik who?

This was a great result of the Caps as they have started as they mean to go on. It's clear Ovechkin and Holtby, undoubtedly our two most important players for these playoffs, are here to play and to make this an exciting series. What is critical for game 2 on Saturday is that the Caps grab another win against the Rangers. Yes, this is obvious analysis, but taking a 2-0 series lead compared with a 1-1 tie is vital to give the Caps command of the series. If they do this, the ball is really in their court and they could take out the Rangers in as few as four or five games. Lundqvist has been exposed as beatable, but the Caps defense must do a better job of protecting Holtby as 37 shots on goal is far too many - he won't bail us out every game.

But all in all, a very encouraging result, and whilst I don't want to get too ahead of myself I think they Caps may be starting to develop the balance between run and gun offense and shut down defense that is required to win this tournament - can't wait for the rest of the series!


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