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Many fans have started to panic. What was once a 2-0 series lead, putting the Washington Capitals just two wins away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 20 years, has now turned into a 2-2 tie. A best of seven series has become a best of three. Despite dropping two tough contests at home, the Capitals are confident heading into Game 5 on Saturday night.
“Sign me up! Best out of three, you’ve got a chance to maybe go to the Stanley Cup Finals here, sign me up. I don’t think anybody thought the series would go four straight or anything like that,” Barry Trotz told the media during availability at the team hotel in Tampa on Friday.
Adversity is nothing new to the Capitals. From preseason pundits saying the team couldn’t even make the playoffs, to injury adversity faced early in the season, the Capitals still managed to win the Metropolitan Division. When the playoffs began, the Capitals dropped both of their home games against Columbus, but rallied to win the next four to set up a rematch with the Penguins. As the Penguins series unfolded, the Capitals needed to win without Tom Wilson, who was slapped with a three-game suspension, and Nicklas Backstrom, Ho was out with Injury, but the team still pulled through.
Lars Eller is confident the Caps can bounce back and use their experiences of the past to better themselves for this critical game ahead. This will be their third straight series where they’ll enter Game 5 with a 2-2 series tie.
“I think it’s valuable experience in terms that you know you can go out and win again after having lost two, simply because you have done it before,” said Lars Eller. “We have done it before. We’ve been there. We know what we’ve gotta do. We’ve been through this cycle.”
It isn’t that the Capitals played terrible in Game 4. They actually played pretty well, but ultimately lost the battle at special teams. The Capitals nearly doubled the Lightning in total shots, outshooting the Bolts 38-20.
“I think it’s encouraging for the group knowing that, especially last night, we carried the play and didn’t get the result we wanted,” said Brooks Orpik. “I think we know that over the course of a seven-game series, more times than not, if you play that way, you’ll win the series.”
The Capitals have faced adversity since the very first day of training camp. The success of the season shows you how they’ve dealt with it. The advancement to the Eastern Conference Finals further shows that. With the series even, it’s anybody’s series to win.
By Michael Marzzacco