The Washington Capitals have made history this postseason, as they have reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era. While the Capitals have made some history, they are currently facing elimination entering Game 6 as they are down 3-2 in the series. The Capitals need to regroup on home ice, and they need to find ways to energize the home crowd in Washington DC.
In the 2018 postseason, the Capitals have posted a 3-5 record in Capital One Arena. The Capitals have been a bit opposite on the road. On the road, the Capitals are 7-2 and have been very dominant.
The Capitals have driven the home crowd crazy in the postseason over the last number of years. They have regularly had home-ice advantages in playoffs, but have not taken advantage of it. The Capitals have gotten into a bit of a hole now, as they have dropped the last two straight home games to Tampa Bay.
The Capitals must improve their performances on home-ice if they want any chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. The Capitals need to fine-tune a few areas of their game, and they need to find ways to keep the home crowd alive and electric.
Let’s dive in to some areas where the Capitals can improve on home ice:
GET THE SPECIAL TEAMS GOING
The Capitals special teams have been brutal at times, and have cost the club at key moments in several playoff series.
Against Tampa Bay in Games 3 and 4, the Capitals powerplay sputtered to a combined 0/7. Powerplay opportunities in the playoffs need to be handled accordingly, as the NHL referees are more reluctant to make calls in the postseason.
The Capitals must get their powerplay back on track if they want this series to be extended past 6 games.
MORE SHOTS ON GOAL
Capitals fans are probably used to this, but the Capitals tend to pass up a lot of open looks at the net. In Game 4, the Capitals overpassed as they had plenty of possession in the Tampa zone late in the third period. The Capitals tend to go on long shot-less droughts in games, and it is something that needs to be addressed.
SCORE THE FIRST GOAL, THEN BUILD ON IT
The Capitals let up the first goal of the game in Game 3 against Tampa, and it helped set the tone for how the rest of the game was going to go.
The first goal of a game is always a tone-setter. If the Capitals can get the first goal of the game, they can build off it. The energy of the DC crowd should be able to help give them some momentum late into games.
QUIT SURRENDERING “LATE” AND “EARLY GOALS” IN PERIODS
For some strange reason, the Capitals must improve their starts and finishes to periods. They tend to surrender goals at critical junctures in periods. The Capitals kill a little bit of their own momentum when they surrender the “early” and “late” goals.
The Capitals must remain focused in these moments, and must deliver a full 60-minute effort. Playing for 35 minutes a night is simply not good enough for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
By: George Foussekis