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Category: Washington-Capitals

Slow Start Cost The Washington Capitals Last Night

from Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post,

It doesn’t take long at all to lose a playoff hockey game, which is obvious and perplexing at the same time. It takes 60 minutes to win one — at least — and we can all agree on that. But somehow, they can be lost in a single shift or a matter of seconds, in the amount of time it takes to read this paragraph.

The Washington Capitals will wake up Friday morning and rue the third-period goal from Nick Bonino, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ third-line center who was last seen finishing the Capitals off in overtime of Game 6 last May, beginning summer in Washington a month early. On Thursday, in the opener of their second-round series at Verizon Center, it was somehow Bonino on the breakaway, Bonino outracing Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik to free himself for the shot, Bonino beating Braden Holtby to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 victory.

That’s the game-winner for Pittsburgh, and it can’t be disputed. But was it the game-loser for the Caps?

Washington trails in the nascent stages of this series not solely because of that goal. It trails because when it returned to the ice after the first intermission of a scoreless, feel-each-other-out game, it did so without its full faculties. It took just 12 seconds for one Pittsburgh goal, another 52 seconds for the next, and — boom! — previously pulsing Verizon Center was quiet, and the Penguins had a 2-0 lead.

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Without Kris Letang, The Pittsburgh Penguins Are In Trouble Against The Washington Capitals

from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

On March 12, I wrote on these pages the Penguins can’t win the Stanley Cup without Kris Letang. Not much room for misinterpretation there. Well, I’d like to amend that declaration just a bit this morning. Only a fool would write off a team coached by Mike Sullivan and led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, a team with the collective heart of a champion. Of course, the Penguins can win if puck-luck is on their side and everything goes their way.

But I still don’t see it happening.

I don’t see a second consecutive Cup.

I don’t see the Penguins beating the Washington Capitals.

That’s no disrespect toward the Penguins or their group of defensemen. That’s tremendous respect for Letang, a one-of-a-kind player on his team.

I know the Capitals’ history works against them. The Penguins have won eight of nine playoff series against them, including last spring when they took the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals out in six incredible games. I also know the pressure on Alexander Ovechkin and his Washington team. Crosby’s teams have won everything, including multiple Cups and multiple Olympic gold medals. Ovechkin’s teams have won nothing. The Capitals haven’t even made it past the second round of the playoffs in the Ovechkin era.

But it’s awfully difficult for a team to win the Cup without a star defenseman.

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Close But No Cigar For The Toronto Maple Leafs

from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of NHL.com,

It was more of a beginning than an ending for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Oh, Air Canada Centre hushed when Marcus Johansson scored 6:31 into overtime Sunday, giving the Washington Capitals a 2-1 win and eliminating the Maple Leafs in six games in the Eastern Conference First Round.

But as the Maple Leafs consoled goaltender Frederik Andersen, the fans applauded. As the players looked up at the scoreboard screen for a replay of the winning goal, the fans chanted, "Go Leafs Go!"

"It gives you goose bumps, even after it ended right there, just how loud the building got for us," Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk said. "They know how far we've come and the effort we've put forth. We're proud to play for this city and for those fans. I think there's a bright future for us."

A year ago, the Maple Leafs missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons. They finished 30th in the NHL standings, dead last.

And here they were as the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, facing a team that had won the Presidents' Trophy as the League's top regular-season team for the second straight season, a popular pick to win it all.

It was a matchup that would have been No. 8 vs. No. 1 in the old seeding system, a mismatch on paper and in pixels, and it wasn't a mismatch at all.

It was a classic.

The Maple Leafs and Capitals played six one-goal games. Five went to overtime, tying the NHL record for a playoff series. The Capitals scored 18 goals, the Maple Leafs 16. The Maple Leafs took 213 shots, the Capitals 211.

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Video- Marcus Johnansson Scores In OT, Capitals Advance

It will be Washington against Pittsburgh in the second round

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marcus+johansson

The Toronto Maple Leafs Now Face A Must Win Game 6

from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star,

Mike Babcock could not have been making a guarantee, if only because to guarantee a win in this series is like guaranteeing you’ll win a coin flip.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had just lost Game 5 and fallen behind Washington 3-2 in the series, and the Leafs coach said, “We’ve been in overtime four times, it’s a good competitive series, we believe we still have a chance to win, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

But, no guarantees. This series has been a prizefight with your shadow, and the difference between these two teams is that the Washington Capitals have scored the last goal. Sixty-four seconds into OT the Capitals executed a perfect zone entry that ended with Justin Williams beating Frederik Andersen from the slot. The final score was 2-1, and can eliminate Toronto Sunday night.

“It’s a game of inches,” said Toronto’s Auston Matthews, who scored Toronto’s lone goal six minutes into the second period. “Especially at this point of the season, in the playoffs, it’s just one shot. If it’s in their net, maybe the series is 3-2 us. It’s just a game of inches.”

“Mr. Game 7,” said Ovechkin, referring to Williams. “It’s all it takes. One shot and we get the (series) lead.”

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Uphill Battle Now Facing The Toronto Maple Leafs

from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,

The playoff pressure pendulum that was stuck on the Washington Capitals for the past two games is now bearing down on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Their skate-like-crazy, throw-pucks-at-the-net, see-what-happens style made the Leafs the talk of the NHL for the first week of the playoffs.

But now that the Capitals gave them a good lesson on playoff hockey in Game 4 – yes, the Leafs made it close near the end but that was only on the scoreboard – it is time to see if the roller-coaster team really is ready to stay ahead of the rebuilding plan and finish this upset, which looked so close until the Caps tied the first-round series with that 5-4 win on Wednesday.

Roundup: The latest news and results from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The best-of-seven series is now a best-of-three, with two games in Washington. The Leafs have more than a chance to win but that means once again bouncing back against the best regular-season team in the league. Game 5 may well decide this, since the winner gets a 3-2 lead, one game from ending it in what is a battle of the psyches as much as on the ice.

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The Leafs Were Not Good Enough Last Night

from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,

The scoreboard read 5-4 and the landmines were scattered everywhere.

About the only victory the Toronto Maple Leafs could claim on Wednesday night is that they managed to pack up and leave Air Canada Centre without stepping on any of them.

There were several different ways a Game 4 loss could have been chalked up as an aw-shucks near-miss, from the 19-3 shots advantage over Washington in the third period to the fact they came within a botched 1-on-4 clearing attempt from forcing overtime.

But the Leafs instead took a deeper level of self-reflection and thus avoided lying to themselves about what really happened here.

“For sure, it is a lost opportunity,” said head coach Mike Babcock. “It doesn’t feel like it – it is. I think Game 1 in their building you could say that, but I didn’t feel like that, I just felt that was a confidence builder for our team. You’re playing a team, they’re the best team in hockey and here you are.

“I thought today was the first time that maybe we weren't scared enough of them and it looked like it because our competition level wasn’t good enough.”

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Video- Washington/Toronto, You Make The Call

Washington did win the game 5-4 over Toronto, but what do you think of this no goal call?

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Video- It Is Not Often The Same Guy Makes A Big Save Then Scores

Tom Wilson just did, Caps up 4-1 after the 1st.

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: tom+wilson

Time For The Washington Capitals To Show Up And Play

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,.

Call it an overreaction if you will, but this is it. The Alex Ovechkin-era Capitals, perennial playoff underachievers, need to show us what they're truly made of.

"You're going to see our best game tomorrow," Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday.

In a series pitting a massively experienced and deeply talented squad versus a wet-behind-the-ears but also very talented team, what's puzzling is that it's the graybeards making more mental mistakes. It's the older team looking like it is lacking confidence, the veteran squad easily rattled by any change in momentum.

Is there just too much riding on this season, which long ago was scripted as the last kick at the can for this roster?

Said a rival Eastern Conference head coach of free agents such as T.J. Oshie, Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk, "if they don't win it this year, that group is going to be broken up. It seems like they're weighted down. It's almost like they've got to have a come-to-Jesus moment. Maybe it happens with their backs against the wall here. Maybe they get through that and play now. But it seems like that team has the weight of the world on them."

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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