It’s that time of year once again. A time where yours truly will be fighting to stay awake in the wee hours of the morning in anticipation of a deciding goal, from a game that’s probably in its second or third overtime. The great Jim Mora said it best, “PLAYOFFS?!?!”
Last night started things off with a bang as the Capitals and Rangers contest was the best of the bunch. Washington looked like a different team from past seasons and played with a different edge. Mind you, I’m sure the bulk of the game looked eerily similar to last years opening round series to Caps fans.
With the Rangers playing a perfectly boring game and leading 1-0 late in the third, Washington refused to panic. Sticking to their system and patience led to a hard-working, albeit questionable, tying goal from Alexander Ovechkin late in the game. From there, Alexander Semin fired a laser past Henrik Lundquist in overtime for the win.
It got me thinking that a typical Caps team from years past would have lost the game and panic would have set in instantly. This year’s group is different however. For starters they snuck into the number one seed right at the end of the season. Flying under the radar for most of the year means less pressure and expectations.
Last season the Caps were first in goals for compared to 19th this season. But they are fourth in goals against as opposed to 16th last season. Meaning running into a hot goaltender, like Henrik Lundquist, won’t have the same effect as it did in last year’s playoffs. The Caps have been winning games all year like they did last night.
In past years goaltending was a major question mark for this team as they seemingly did not have a number one goalie. Instead of searching for a number one, this year they have rotated in three different goalies, surprisingly with positive results. Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov and Braden Holtby each had a GAA under 2.50 and SP over .910 during the regular season.
Fans and analysts have always been critical of Alexander Ovechkin’s play in the postseason. Consider this though; Ovie actually has the highest playoff goals per game average of all time with 21 in 29 games. Granted he hasn’t been around as long as some other greats but pretty solid numbers none the less.
Not to mention I foresee an easier second round matchup for them with Buffalo being my upset special over Philly. So with all this being said the stars may be aligned for a Capitals championship run.
Then again, we’re just one game in…