Final shaping up to be 7-game series following Caps win

Courtesy of sinbin.vegas

The dreams of hardcore hockey fans everywhere have been answered- we have ourselves a series.

Now granted, we are only on the eve of game three on Saturday and it's completely possible that one of these teams turns it on and takes the next three (anything is possible, after all).  But with the speed and intensity we have all seen in the last two games, this final has all the makings of going 7-games. 

The Capitals strong effort Wednesday night backed by the improved play of Braden Holtby has evened the series at one game a piece. 

A split game decision in Vegas shouldn't be too much of a surprise to those that have tracked the behavior of these two teams throughout the playoffs. 
Statistically speaking, both were playing where they feel most comfortable. 

Coming into the final, the Golden Knights sported a 6-1 playoff record at home (now 7-2) and a 6-2 record on the road. Combine that with the "unique" atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena and you could easily say that Vegas plays some of their best hockey in front of a home crowd. 

On the flip side, the Capitals brought into the final a very pedestrian 4-5 home record, but a commanding 8-2 away record (now 9-3). Much more apparent that the Vegas statistic, its clear that Washington prefers to be on the road without the pressure of the home town fans. 

With the series now shifting to D.C. for game 3, both teams will be forced to play out of their comfort zone. This sets the stage for yet another split decision and in-turn, a higher probability of this crazy series going 7 (we can only hope, right?). 

Taking the notes of games one and two to heart, here's what both teams need to focus on during these next games in D.C.:

Washington Capitals- 
•As weird as it sounds, don't let your fans get in your head. Instead of thinking about how you're going to let them down (like you have in many years past) or how your home record isn't great, use the crowd's energy to get motivated. You won your last game at Capital One Arena against Tampa Bay, so keep that momentum going.

•Continue to find open ice in the offensive zone and throw the puck on Marc-AndrĂ© Fleury anytime the opportunity arises. It appears that there may be some chinks in the armor after all (knight pun very much intended). 

•Keep pushing the Knight's offense to the outside in your zone and forcing them to take wide-angle/ low-percentage shots. This also includes being mindful of the Vegas defensemen, who play a large role in setting up their offensive opportunities.

•Holtby- You know how you played in game two? Yeah, just do that again. 

Vegas Golden Knights-
•Don't get distracted or discouraged by the hostile away crowd. You've won on the road just about as much as you have in front of the Elvis impersonators at T-Mobile Arena. So you won't have a fancy pre-game show before you take the ice, big deal. If you can close out the Jets on the road, you can certainly pull off a win in D.C.

•Capitalize (boy, I'm on a roll) on your power play opportunities and force Holtby to work for the save by making him move around. You had several slot feeds and straight-on shots from the side boards and below the net in game 2, but nobody was there to bury it like they were in game 1.

•Continue that famed aggressive forecheck and stop the Caps from even gaining the zone. If/ when they do get in, make sure one of them isn't standing all alone next to the net...

•Fleury needs to bounce-back and bail his team out if/when there is a defensive breakdown. He didn't play as bad as many say he did in game 2. Two of the three goals against him were side-to-side stretch passes that he had almost no chance on. But the flutter puck goal that went off a Vegas player combined with his game 1 performance shows that he's a little off his game. Fleury has shown in the past that he can rebound from a loss. He's going to have to do it again.




Previous Page Next Page Home