Capitals vs Leafs: Game 2 is upon us
April 15, 2017, 11:39 AM ET [60 Comments]
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Tonight the Capitals will host the Maple Leafs for game two of the best of seven. It will be at the Verizon Centre, which I bring up just to ask what a Verizon is? It's a pretty dumb name for a building, whatever that is (and obviously I could google it, but I prefer to maintain an era of mystery).
The Capitals look to be icing the same lineup, as do the Leafs. This means no Zaitsev for Toronto.
If the Caps wish to maintain home ice advantage they are going to have to play a much better game than they did on Thursday night. That means adjusting their game plan to break the puck out properly - they gave the puck away a ton in game one. Also, they should try to ice the puck less.
These adjustments appear to have been made towards the end of the second period in game one, and it will be interesting to see if Washington can maintain their level of play from the third period.
To me, the best Players on Washington weren't very good on Thursday. Specifically Backstrom and Carlsson - both in the low 40's in terms of possession percentage.
For the most part, the Leafs used Gardiner / Polak and the Kadri line against the Cap's top line and they shut them down. At 5v5, Ovechkin has zero shots, Backstrom three and Oshie one.
This could be a fluke, but if it's a trend, Washington will be in trouble. Game one was a scare for the Capitals and they need their top line to perform.
Here's a nice little chart to show who the Leafs deployed against which Capitals line.
One interesting thing I noticed from looking at the ice time allocations is that the least used Caps line was Burakovsky, Eller and Connelly, but they also had the best possession numbers. Perhaps Trotz should play them more than the fourth line, who I know everyone loves, but come on....
Tom Wilson and Jay Beagle are not very good hockey players. Yeah, Wilson scored the winner, but these are fourth line players. They're OK. They do their job. But Burakovsky is a legit NHL above average player. He needs to skate way more than Jay Beagle. But in game one, he did not.
That's not very good coaching. And when you're going up against Babcock, you can't afford to make little mistakes like overrating your fourth line.
Another thing about Trotz: to allow Kadri - he should win the Selke - to go against Ovechkin for 54% of the time, while you have home ice is just brutal. To win tonight's game in a more convincing fashion, Trotz needs to use his last change to get Ovechkin on the ice against Marner and Bozak, by far the Leafs worst defensive line.
Anyways, in my opinion the Capitals need to approach game two as if they lost game one, because they very well could have by doing nothing different. It took a broken stick that left Andersen way out of position, and a slow whistle while he didn't know where the puck was, to avoid a 2-0 shutout.
Yeah, they won. But they were outskated for two periods and outcoached. Although, Trotz did make some in-game strategy adjustments that seemed to work, letting Babcock dictate mathcups in his own rink isn't very smart.
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