The Washington Capitals’ bubble has been popped. 

After ending the common season as the highest workforce in an ultra-competitive Metropolitan division, the Capitals didn’t advance out of the primary spherical of the playoffs for the second consecutive yr. The Caps didn’t recapture their common season magic after the restart and the Islanders wanted simply 5 video games to ship them packing. 

So, the place did issues collapse for Washington? Let’s check out the place issues went unsuitable for the Capitals. 

Failure to interrupt Isles’ defensive construction

Cease me if you happen to’ve heard this one earlier than: The Islanders had been wonderful defensively on this collection. Barry Trotz’s defensive system gave his former workforce suits because the Isles managed to fully suffocate Washington, who completed the common season second in targets per recreation. 

The Islanders gave the Capitals subsequent to nothing at 5v5 on this collection. Washington held the benefit in shot makes an attempt (212-190) however there have been an entire lot of empty energy almost about these possession numbers. The Islanders had the benefit in photographs on objective (97-89) and targets (11-3). Sure, that’s right… in 5 video games, the Caps averaged lower than 18 photographs per recreation at 5v5 and scored simply three targets.  

The Islanders do an awesome job of grinding groups into the bottom and taking away time and house within the offensive zone. They block photographs and pressure turnovers to create offense going the opposite method, and that technique labored to perfection in opposition to Washington on this collection. For the second straight yr, Todd Reirden was out-coached behind the bench within the first spherical en path to an early exit. Now his job standing is likely to be up within the air and it makes you surprise… why cannot they the Caps get a man like Trotz?

Lack of secondary scoring

Prepared for this? The Capitals scored eight complete targets on this collection, which is dangerous sufficient to start with, however the lack of manufacturing turns into an entire lot worse once you understand that these eight targets got here from simply three gamers. This is how the Caps’ objective scoring broke down within the collection:

That is it. That is the offense. 

Props to 3 of the Caps’ most notable forwards for doing one thing on this collection, however the place the hell was everybody else? The Caps bought completely no secondary scoring behind their greatest names and that is simply not acceptable when you think about among the ancillary gamers on this roster. Nothing from Tom Wilson. Nothing from Jakub Vrana. Nothing from Ilya Kovalchuk. Nothing from Lars Eller. NOTHING.

While you have a look at the Caps’ struggles at 5v5 and their lack of scoring exterior of some gamers, it turns into fairly simple to reach on the conclusion that they missed Nick Backstrom on this collection. Backstrom was knocked out of Recreation 1 with a concussion and did not return till Recreation 5, and having to make these lineup changes in all probability did not do the Caps any favors — particularly once you had a 25-year-old rookie Brian Pinho inserted into the highest 9. Nevertheless, you possibly can’t permit the lack of one participant to explode your total lineup. It is the playoffs… you must be ready to take care of this stuff.

Additionally, it is also price stating that whereas John Carlson led the workforce in factors (6) this collection, 4 of his six assists got here on the ability play and the Caps had been outscored 0-7 whereas he was on the ice at 5v5 within the collection. Is that this your Norris finalist?

Failure to carry collectively in their very own finish

The Capitals’ protection has been a legal responsibility nearly all season lengthy they usually merely weren’t ok at limiting openings for the Isles on this collection. The Islanders are a workforce that does not generate a ton of alternatives offensively; as a substitute, they wait to take what an opposition provides them. It is why they’d a lot success in opposition to a weak Pittsburgh blue line final postseason and why they discovered that very same success in opposition to a defensively inclined Panthers workforce within the qualifying spherical. Add the Capitals to that listing of victims. 

Washington’s consciousness and compete ranges on the again finish had been missing on this collection and it led to the Islanders discovering extra scoring alternatives than they in all probability deserved. For instance:

That objective from Mat Barzal primarily sums up how a lot bother Washington had coping with him (and different prime Isles forwards) on this collection. They mainly allowed him to enter the zone unimpeded and get a possibility on web, then could not get a save once they wanted it. 

That final half leads us to…


Exterior of particular groups, the Capitals weren’t significantly nice in any space of this collection so it is tough to pin a ton of blame on Braden Holtby in web. That being mentioned, might the Caps have used a greater efficiency than what Holtby and his .875 save proportion gave them? Completely. Ought to we be stunned Holtby wasn’t ok on this collection? Most likely not.

Holtby hasn’t been all that good for a couple of years now and it was reasonably regarding when the Caps misplaced their extra dependable possibility, Ilya Samsonov, to harm earlier than the restart even started. It is a disgrace that this collection possible featured Holtby’s final video games in a Capitals uniform as a result of his tenure in Washington in all probability deserved a greater farewell given every part he is performed on and off the ice through the years. But it surely’s onerous not to take a look at the goaltending and say that the Caps ought to have performed higher between the pipes. 

On the opposite facet, the Islanders bought an awesome displaying from Semyon Varlamov, who saved 93.5 % of the photographs he confronted over the 5 video games.

Can we get some effort?

It feels so lazy to say {that a} workforce regarded like they did not need it sufficient… however guess what? The Caps simply straight-up regarded like they did not need it sufficient. They had been constantly outworked by the Islanders and it appeared that Washington did not care to exhibit the mandatory effort to match the compete stage New York introduced on a nightly foundation. 

I do not know if the Caps struggled with conditioning following the break or if bubble life simply took its toll on a few of their guys, however there wasn’t a lot conviction or hearth behind the their play this postseason and it was onerous to disregard. The Islanders are a foul matchup for any workforce that is not prepared to empty the tank on each shift.


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