Capitals With Backs Against the Wall

By Allen Moody

The Washington Capitals cruised to the NHL President’s Trophy, which goes to the best team in the regular season. They didn’t stand pat at the trade deadline, adding Kevin Shattenkirk, easily the top defenseman available. Now, they find themselves trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in their opening playoff series. What’s gone wrong for Washington? Plenty.

For starters, Mike Babcock is coaching circles around Barry Trotz. It’s not even close. Based on matchups, Alexander Ovechkin saw the ice for just over two minutes in the third period of Monday’s loss. Your best player needs to play more than 15 minutes. Four more forwards saw more ice time than Ovechkin, which is horrible. Sidney Crosby played 25 minutes in Pittsburgh’s Game 3. They won in overtime.

Ovechkin also could do a bit more when he does get on the ice. Two points in three games isn’t what you need from your best player when the season is on the line. Nicklas Backstrom has three points, T.J. Oshie has four.

Brooks Orpik is seeing too much ice time. The Maple Leafs are killing the Capitals with their speed. Orpik isn’t much faster than a pylon and it’s no surprise he’s a -4 in the playoffs.

The Capitals have had several defensive breakdowns this series which have hurt them. Toronto has scored several times the same way because the defense isn’t doing its job. The Maple Leafs aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Washington just isn’t doing its job defensively.

Braden Holtby has to play better. He will be a Vezina finalist, although Sergei Bobrovsky probably has the award wrapped up. So far he has been bordering on average. Frederik Andersen has been better.

The Caps could also use a bit of luck. Each game has been decided by one goal so far this series. The Caps need to win Game 4 and take care of business at home to move on.