Down 0-2 in the series, the Washington Capitals got into a nasty hole early in the series. Since the 0-2 start, the Capitals have shown a lot of character and have crawled back for a 3-2 series lead. The Capitals have the chance to close the series out with the Blue Jackets on Monday night, if they take care of business.
The term “killer instinct” is an expression used in sports that contains various meanings. Sports fans can interpret it differently, but in a nutshell, it is a term that can be attached to a player or team.
In the Ovechkin-era in Washington, this expression has been used plenty of times, since the Capitals have been a frequent Stanley Cup playoff team.
WHAT DEFINES “KILLER INSTINCT?”
From one sports fan to another, my definition of “killer instinct” is the ability to put your opponent away when the stakes are high. Killer instinct is a mentality that a player or coach carries with them to win when it matters most.
If you need to visualize what “killer instinct” looks like, look no further than a boxing match. For a boxer entering the fight, the objective of a boxing match is to knock out the opponent, and not get knocked out in return. The boxer that carries the most “killer instinct” will likely be the victor by the end of the match. Chances are, the boxer that that scores the most punches or gets the critical knockout will win the match. The boxer that looks timid and boxes with caution will likely end up the loser of the match.
KILLER INSTINCT IN SPORTS PLAYOFFS
In a team sport like ice hockey, professional athletes and coaches must perform all the time when the stakes are high. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, every team that qualifies is fighting for survival, and fighting to be the last team standing.
Collectively, the teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs must have the same mindset. Each team must execute their respective game plans to win. In hockey, each player and coach must collectively pull on the rope in order win the important battles.
The Capitals have not had a kind postseason run in the Ovechkin-era. The Capitals have fallen short on multiple occasions for not having enough “killer instinct.”
KNOCK YOUR OPPONENT OUT WHEN THE CHANCE IS GIVEN
After Game 5 ended in overtime, some of the Blue Jackets players had the “1,000-yard stare” into space. It was a heartbreaking loss for them, and one could see that in their body language.
The Blue Jackets are reeling, and the Capitals need to recognize this. The Capitals can beat the Blue Jackets for the third straight time in Columbus on Monday night.
The Capitals have an opponent that is reeling, and have the chance to deliver the knockout blow in Columbus. Can the Capitals rise the occasion, and overcome previous playoff demons?
For the Capitals to close the series, they must play smart in Game 6, and execute their game plan for 60 minutes. They cannot have a repeat of Game 5, especially the third period of Game 5. The Capitals must stay disciplined, win the special teams battle, and deliver the knockout blow against a desperate opponent. They must bring the collective mentality and attitude to the rink in order to achieve their ultimate goal. In order to change history and remove the “same-old, same-old,” the Capitals must have the right attitude and “killer instinct” mentality when it matters most.
By: George Foussekis