You read the title correct. The Capitals are in fact heading back to Washington up 2-0 over the Lightning with two home games to play and a chance to do the unthinkable and sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning. I don’t think this series goes to that extent though. Although the Capitals have outscored the Lightning now 10-4 and have scored within the first minute of both games. The Lightning have to take at least one game in Washington right?
Well, not so fast because as much as you want to write the Capitals off and say, they will lose at least one game in Washington. Who is to say they can’t take two games and finish this series in four games. The Capitals have now proved EVERYONE wrong. Not one person, probably not even Capitals fans, first off thought they would be in the Conference finals, let alone be up 2-0 against the EASTERN CONFERENCE’S number one team this season.
What could be the Capitals reason(s) for success, there are plenty…
(1) HUNGRY. If you have not noticed by now the Capitals are winning every puck race and hunting pucks down like they are lion seeking prey in the jungle. I have never seen a Capitals team like this. Typically they have always been a very talented team up and down the line up but taking a look past Ovechkin and Kutneztov, the Capitals are winning games with guys like Alex Chiasson, who’s never tallied over 35 points in his career and was a free agent signing, or Jay Beagle, Lars Eller, Devante Smith Pelly, my point is, who are these guys? Does not matter because every one of these players whether they are scoring goals or not are buying in and doing something productive. Which has been the biggest reason the Capitals have not been successful in years past is that usually they have one or two guys carrying the load and everyone else was not chipping in. A hungry Capitals team has been of the many reasons they are up 2-0 right now.
(2) Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov are unreal. Need to say more? Anytime the Capitals win you can guarantee these two either scored or had a huge role in the game. Kuzy and the game-tying goal in game five vs Pittsburgh, game-winning goal in game six, Ovechkin scoring 11 goals, second among active players, plus Kuzy and Ovechkin combining for 38 points this playoffs is a major reason. I don’t think this point needs to be explained anymore, they both rank 1, 2 among active playoff players.
(3) Braden Holtby, the guy has been lights out. He is not making fantastic saves or anything that is mind-blowing but the guy has been so consistent, allowing 2 goals per game and when the save needs to be made he is doing it. Holtby has always been known to be a Vezina goalie, and a goalie who is a freak of nature when it comes to focus and rituals. In years past it almost seemed like whenever the Capitals would go down a game, Holtby would struggle so credit the Capitals for staying up, consistent and supporting Holtby back there. This time around though, Holtby seems to be really confident, dialed in and really on another level. Holtby is arguably one of the best goalies in the last six or so years in the NHL, and with this playoff performance and possibly a trip to the Stanley Cup we are finally getting to see a different side to Holtby. He has been one of the most consistent players for the Capitals and coming in not even thinking he was a starter for the first round is unbelievable to now see him 10-2 through his 12 starts with a 2.04 and .926 save percentage. We are seeing a whole different Holtby right now and when this guy is on, the Capitals will have no problem winning two more games.