It appears that the Washington Capitals have started to embrace the time of year after losing consecutive games to the Rangers and Stars. Those losses sparked some harsh words from coach Barry Trotz in the media and caused a players-only meeting. Trotz further pushed to get the team’s attention when he cancelled a scheduled off-day and brought the team in for practice. Since, the Capitals have reeled off two consecutive wins in their battle to secure a playoff spot.
Washington currently sits fourth in the Metropolitan division and are four points ahead of the Bruins in the Wild Card race, if the playoffs started today than both teams would be the Wild Card teams.
Washington started embracing the time of year and displaying a true sense of urgency and purpose against the Bruins. When the puck first dropped to start the first period to when the horn went off at the end of the third period, the Capitals pressured the Bruins. The puck spent most of the night in Boston’s zone, Washington played fast and physical with an energy and tenacity that carried on from start to finish. While on they only put two pucks in the back of the Boston net, the Capitals created scoring chance after scoring chance but Tukka Rask was up to the challenge.
Braden Holtby and the defense were phenomenal against the Bruins, while Boston was able to get shots off, the Capitals were disciplined and selfless defending their net. Holtby was aggressive going after the puck as well, several times coming well off his line to attack the puck. It was his second time shutting out the Bruins this season.
The Capitals faced the Sabers in New York tonight, while they didn’t get off to the same fast start as the Bruins game, Washington got the victory. A sluggish start put them in a 2-1 hole after the first period. Washington tied it in the second period but both Buffalo and the Capitals scored in the third period to tie the game at three.
Washington continued their strong play in power play situations, scoring two of their three goals on the night in those situations. While Holtby didn’t have a shutout, he did record 30 saves. Evgeny Kuznetsov was the man of the night, the young forward scored what appeared to be the go-ahead goal in the third period. He also scored the only goal in the shootout, giving the Capitals a much needed win.
The younger payers have really stepped up as of late, not only Kuznetsov but Tom Wilson as well. Their contributions are needed if the Caps wish to make a run in the post season as well as hold on to their Wild Card spot.
Alexander Ovechkin hasn’t scored a goal in the past four games, but it hasn’t been from a lack of effort or chances. The league’s leading scorer has made plays for teammates during this stretch.
The Capitals have 11 games left in the regular season, if they can keep this level of intensity up the rest of the way, they could climb out of that Wild Card spot. They just have to avoid those dangerous slow starts, as they often finish games very well.