In a game played more like a preseason game, the Capitals won on both sides of the ice and dominated the Chicago Blackhawks 4 to 0. Goalie Jaroslav Halak may have played his best game for the Capitals.
The home fans enjoyed the game, and gladly welcomed the Capitals back to the Verizon Center even though the Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs earlier in the week. When asked if they were worried about the fan reception, players and Coach Adam Oates admitted they were not sure. In the end, “these fans are loyal” and “always showing good support” said Nicklas Backstrom.
For much of the end of the season, players and Coach Oates lamented over missed opportunities and mistakes. Last night was different, however. The Capitals clearly seemed more relaxed and were having more fun than past games down the playoff stretch. When asked if playoff pressure was getting to the team, the players reluctantly admitted pressure may have been a factor.
When asked, Backstrom answered “maybe.” “Nerves [are a factor] when games are more important.” After being eliminated from the playoffs, he admitted that the “last two games we moved the puck better than the whole year.”
“[Pressure] snuck in a little bit,” according to Eric Fehr.
Halak admitted, “it could be.” If there is pressure, “you make more mistakes.” Last night’s game was different. It was a “more enjoyable game…I think everyone should enjoy. That is why we play the game.”
In the end, Fehr was probably right. You can’t take too much from a “closer to preseason game.” But with nothing on the line, last night night’s victory was at least enjoyable. Sunday, the long off season begins.