To have success in the playoffs, winning on the road is a necessity. The Washington Capitals split their first two games at home with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early going of the second round. Now, the Capitals must find a way to take control of the series in Pittsburgh.
It will not be easy for the Capitals to defeat the Penguins on home ice, but crazy things can happen. The Capitals will have their work cut out for them against the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
To pull a couple of the big upsets in Pittsburgh, the Capitals must be at their absolute best. Let’s look at some things the Capitals should do to take control of the series:
Tensions escalated in this series, especially in Game 2. There was plenty of snarl on display, and both teams visited the penalty box a few times because of it.
The Capitals must be careful in Pittsburgh with taking penalties. The Penguins have a lot of firepower on their powerplay. The Capitals have kept the Penguins limited to 0/5 on their powerplay in this series.
With Evgeni Malkin returning soon, the Penguins powerplay unit will get a major scoring boost.
THIRD PERIOD IMPROVEMENT
The Capitals have been struggling to put together consistency in their third period play. The Capitals must find an extra gear and they must finish strong in the final period of regulation.
In Game 1, the Capitals got the start that they wanted as Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 17 seconds into the game. However, the Capitals surrendered 3 goals within a 5-minute time span in the third period to eventually lose Game 1 3-2.
The Capitals must have the focus and concentration for 60 minutes in these games against the Penguins. The Penguins are an experienced group, and they are not a team that gives up hope, even late in games.
JUMP ON THE PENGUINS EARLY
From a mental standpoint, it is important to score the first goal of the game on the road. The home team never likes to play from behind in front of the home crowd.
The Capitals must find a way to get a quick start on the Penguins early in Games 3 and 4. If the Capitals can get the early goal in these games, the Penguins will begin to think more, and second guess their opponent.
If the Capitals can find a way to score multiple goals early, it can mess with the goaltender’s mind. Hockey is a physical game, but there is plenty of “mental play” inside the game.
By: George Foussekis