May 9, 2017, 10:07 AM ET [40 Comments]
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The Capitals have forced game seven.
They did so by once again manhandling the defending Champions. This makes six games in a row in which the Capitals have been far and away the better team.
I don't care if you're using the old eye-test, advanced stats, regular stats, or just getting hammered and enjoying the game, the fact is, by any measure this series has been a total and utter domination of the Penguins by the Capitals.
Don't believe me? Head over to my man Ryan Wilson's Pittsburgh themed blog and he'll tell you the same thing, only with better graphs, related videos and twice the elegance.
The Capitals - and I stole this right out of Ryan's blog - have outshot the Penguins in 15 of 17 periods, and have attempted around 130 more shots.
Like I said: It's been a domination.
Before the series, I said that the Penguins would give the Capitals less trouble than the Leafs did, owing to the Leafs being awesome and the Penguins being extremely injured.
In this I have proved correct. Had Marc-Andre Fleury not Freaky-Fridayed with the Dominick Hasek for a bout a week, this series would have been over in four - one game less than I predicted.
In fact, Washington's dominance of the Penguins has been so complete that should they lose game seven - a very good possibility as the Penguins are bound to play a good game eventually - I will give the team a complete pass for failing to make the third round.
Because the only reason they haven't already advanced is just luck, pure and simple. You don't expect an average back-up goalie to suddenly play +.940 hockey and steal three victories and you cant out-coach a hot goalie or even really do anything about it.
The Capitals have played like the best team in the NHL and that's exactly what they are. A victory tomorrow night almost assuredly puts them in the Stanley Cup Final. (Though who's to say? The Rangers and Senators could do the same thing the Penguins did for three games).
Of course post-game coverage was insufferable. I wanted to claw my eyes out listening to TSN's Dave Poulin praise Barry Trotz for his "season saving adjustments".......I mean, come on man! Trotz could set his lineup using cut-up pieces of paper and a hat.
Yeah, Burakovsky scored and has played well, but he always plays well. Of course he's going to score when he's not playing with Eller and Wilson.
Trotz it should be noted, still played Jason Williams more than Ovechkin last night. As he's done all playoffs, he's made questionable decisions. Sure, they worked out and that makes him look smart, but the Capitals dominated the series when they were down 3-1 and short of knee-capping Marc Andre Fleury, didn't really need to make any adjustments.
I am all for crediting the coach a little for making smart adjustments, but the narrative that he somehow saved the series by demoting Ovechkin is intolerable in its myopic stupidity. It is just as annoying as people gloating when the Penguins were up 3-1 despite being brutalized and saved by a goalie who's play was clearly unsustainable.
Anyways, there's no guarantees for game seven - the Penguins are a tough opponent and they have Malkin, Crosby and Kessel. Their goalie has proven he can get up for these playoffs. They might very well win.
But if they do, no one should say the Capitals choked. No one should trot out that old tired narrative. They have done great, they dominated the Champs for at least six games.
No matter what happens, this season was a success for the Capitals.