The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins delivered excellent hockey in Game 1. Both teams exchanged goals, hits, and plenty of prime scoring chances.
By the end of the overtime period, T.J. Oshie completed his hat trick, and the Washington Capitals were victorious 4-3, and they now have a 1-0 lead in the series.
So what can the Capitals do to improve for Game 2? How can the Capitals prepare for a Penguins team that will most likely respond with a better performance?
SCORE ON THE POWERPLAY
The Capitals powerplay has not been very good lately. It went 0/4 in Game 1, and was not very good in the final few games of the Flyers series.
It is important that the Capitals win the offensive zone draws on their powerplay. They need to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and they need to get some shots from skaters not named Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals powerplay can be a bit predictable at times, so there needs to be small adjustments.
The Capitals need to get more shots from Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson on their top powerplay unit. Opposing teams usually slide over to Ovechkin’s side of the ice and shadow him the most. If the Capitals can get some shots from Ovechkin’s opposite side of the powerplay setup, this will open up more passing lanes, and should loosen the coverage on Ovechkin.
LIMIT THE SHOTS AGAINST
Braden Holtby was spectacular in Game 1. Even though he surrendered 3 goals, he made 42 saves.
The Capitals had some costly defensive miscues in Game 1, and Barry Trotz was not very happy about them. It appears that Dmitry Orlov will draw out of the lineup for Game 2, and Taylor Chorney will slot in.
It is important that the Capitals improve defensively. The Penguins should not get that many open shots off at Braden Holtby. On average, teams want to keep the shots against total in the 25-30 range. But giving up 45 shots is too many.
CONTAIN EVGENI MALKIN
The big Russian center had a good game for the Penguins in Game 1. He recorded a goal and had 5 shots on net.
Malkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the Penguins when they went on their Stanley Cup run in 2009. The 29-year old has also won the Hart Memorial Trophy and Art Ross Trophy in his NHL career.
Malkin is a big powerful skater and is very strong on the puck. The best way to defend him is to hit him and play physical against him. Malkin does not like to take hits, and he will take a retaliatory penalty if he gets frustrated. If the Capitals defense can get some big blows on Malkin, he might start taking silly penalties.
The Capitals actually had a pretty quick start in Game 1. They came out and outshot the Penguins 15-9 in the first period, and Andre Burakovsky netted the first goal of the game.
The Capitals were not a good 1st period team in the NHL during the regular season. Giving up the first goal in a game became a bad habit for them. The Penguins will be looking for a quick start in Game 2, and they will want to bury the Capitals early in the game.
Another quick start is needed for the Capitals. Get the fans involved in the game, and keep the crowd cheering throughout the game.
By: George Foussekis