The Washington Capitals and New York Islanders last faced off in a Game 7 in the postseason in 1987, they get a second crack at it tonight in Washington, DC. The series has gone back and forth, as expected between two evenly matched teams. Tonight, it’s winner take all. Survive and advance. However, you’d like to put it, only one team is leaving the Verizon Center with their season still alive.
History is definitely not on the Capitals side as they haven’t had the best of luck in Game 7s, 3-9 in such games and 2-7 in said games when they are the home team. The good news is that Washington has the power to add another win to those columns, they control their own destiny.
Through six games in this series, there are a few certainties. The first is that it will be a physical game, the second, it’s hard to crack these goalies. Jaroslav Halak and Braden Holtby have been tremendous for their respective teams this series. Halak has given up 2.34 goals a game, while Holtby’s been a bit better at just 1.75 goals.
At the start of the series, power play and penalty kill units were one of the areas in which the teams weren’t even. Washington has shown it’s superiority in both areas, scoring when on the power play and successfully killing off everyone of the Islanders power play opportunities.
The winner of this series will face the New York Rangers in the second round
Here’s what Washington has to do to advance
- Start fast. Can’t afford to fall behind in a Game 7
- Get bodies in front of Halak. If he can see the puck, he’s most likely getting a pad or stick on it
- Clear the puck out of their zone. Washington’s gotten in trouble this series most, after the Islanders shoot as the puck doesn’t get cleared
- Keep it clean in front of Holtby. The Islanders do a great job of screening the net minder, can’t let that happen tonight
- Shoot. The games the Capitals won in this series, they out-shot the Islanders by a mile. That constant pressure led to victories